Betty a super typhoon again, approaches Philippines  

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Betty a super typhoon again, approaches Philippines  
A rescue boat is positioned outside the main office of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority as the agency’s Urban Search and Rescue Team showed off vari- ous disaster response equipment yesterday. Local government units and government agencies have started preparations as a super typhoon over the Pacific Ocean is expected to enter the country’s area of responsibility this weekend.
Michael Varcas

MANILA , Philippines — Tropical cyclone Mawar which will be given the local name Betty once inside the Philippine area of responsibility – has   super typhoon and may enter PAR later today or tomorrow morning.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that Mawar, after roaring across Guam, was located 2,000 kilometers east of southeastern Luzon as of 3 p.m.

PAGASA said that a slight southward shift in forecast models shows potential for a much closer approach to the country.

Mawar’s maximum sustained winds may reach 215 kilometers per hour by Sunday. Currently, Mawar is already bringing 195 kph maximum sustained winds and gustiness of up to 240 kph as it heads west-northwest at 15 kph.

The rainbands of the cyclone may bring heavy rains over Cagayan Valley between Sunday and next Tuesday.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals may be hoisted in the next days as strong to gale-force conditions may be experienced in the region.

Mawar may enhance the southwest monsoon and trigger monsoon rains over the western portions of Luzon and Visayas starting Sunday or Monday next week. However, this scenario may still change depending on the track and intensity of the cyclone.

The southwesterly windflow is bringing cloudy skies over parts of the country. Scattered rain showers are forecast over Palawan, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Zamboanga peninsula and BARMM.

The southwesterly windflow and localized thunderstorms will also bring isolated rain showers over Metro Manila and the rest of the country.

Gov’t preparations

President Marcos assured the public that the government has prepared for the possible effects of Mawar.

In a Facebook post, the President noted that the cyclone could cause rains and floods in some areas in Luzon and Visayas.

“We are continuously monitoring super typhoon Mawar, which is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow night (May 26) or Saturday morning. We are preparing for its effect not just in the northern part of the country but also in all other areas that may be affected,” he said in Filipino.

Marcos said he had met with defense department officer-in-charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to ensure that funds and food packs are prepositioned, response teams on standby and local governments in areas to be hit by the cyclone are ready.

Local governments in Metro Manila should prepare for tropical cyclone Mawar, which will enter PAR during the weekend, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) acting Chairman Romando Artes declared yesterday.

He added that they have identified “critical areas” where Metro Manila LGUs should mobilize their personnel and assets in case of flooding. “Teams are prepared, equipped, and trained. Communication lines are open with the LGUs so that teams will be immediately dispatched if needed,” he said.

For the MMDA, Artes said its Urban Search and Rescue Team, composed of 20 rescuers trained in water search and rescue operations, is currently on standby for deployment.

Artes met with officials of Metro Manila LGUs at the MMDA’s new headquarters in Pasig City yesterday, where they discussed measures on response as Mawar could enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat, which could bring heavy rains.

In Cordillera, the Office of the Civil Defense reminded LGUs not to let their guard down even if Mawar is not expected to make landfall.

Apayao Gov. and PDRRMC chair Elias Bulut Jr. has directed the prepositioning of manpower and other logistics in highly vulnerable areas in the province.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development - Apayao, has prepared an additional 1500 family food packs from the National Resource Operation Center.

For its part, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has alerted all search, rescue and retrieval units for humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in areas expected to be affected by Typhoon Mawar.

AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said vehicles and personnel are being prepared to assist in the mandatory evacuation of residents in vulnerable areas. “Air and naval assets are also on standby for deployment for future aerial assessment, transport and evacuation operations,” he announced.

The Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said it has mobilized its volunteers and assets in preparation for the possible effects of Mawar.

The PRC chief said emergency response units and volunteers are ready to immediately report to its operations center. The humanitarian organization has also prepared relief goods for people that may be displaced by the typhoon.

Meanwhile, east zone concessionaire Manila Water Co. Inc. said it beefed up preparations to ensure continued water service to its customers once super typhoon Mawar hits the country this weekend.

In a statement, Manila Water said it has started necessary preparations to ensure service continuity with the expected onslaught of Mawar, which is projected to bring heavy rains and strong winds in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

Harvest matured crops

The Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday advised farmers to harvest mature crops amid the threat of Mawar.

At the same time, the agriculture department called on farmers to relocate animals, farm machineries and equipment to higher ground and clean drainage in irrigation and rice paddies of obstructions to prevent flooding.

The DA also tasked its regional field offices, bureaus, attached agencies and corporations to ensure the prepositioning of seeds for rice and corn, drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry in safe storage facilities. It also assured coordination with the local government units in monitoring the super typhoon.

North Luzon airports get ready

Airports in northwestern Luzon under the management of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are gearing up for Mawar.

Airports that may be affected include Tuguegarao Airport, Basco Airport, Itbayat, Cauayan and Palanan airports. Additionally, airports in Laoag, Vigan and Baguio are also gearing up for possible harsh weather conditions, CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said.

Apolonio added that CAAP-operated airports are often well-prepared in the event of flight delays or possible cancellations brought by natural calamities, and utmost care is usually provided to affected passengers. To further assist stranded travelers, Malasakit help kits and help desks are readily available at airports to address their needs.

CAAP urged the public to stay informed, and are also advised to contact their respective airlines for updates on flight schedules and any changes that may arise due to the typhoon.

Lightning alert grounds 81 flights

Meanwhile, around 81 domestic and international flights were delayed after the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) temporarily put on hold flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to inclement weather.

The Airport Ground Operations and Safety Division issued a Lightning Red Alert on Wednesday 6:23 p.m. and lifted it at 8:55 p.m.

MIAA officer-in-charge Bryan Co appealed for understanding and cooperation while they are at work on the ground where exposure to environmental hazards is higher. –  Bella Cariaso, Artemio Dumlao, Ghio Ong, Rudy Santos, Michael Punongbayan, Alexis Romero, Emmanuel Tupas, Danessa Rivera, Ralph Edwin Viillanueva

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