BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental is among the five provinces in Western Visayas identified by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRMC) 6, high risk areas for the possible impact of the weather disturbance caused by Tropical Storm Paeng.
About 144 families, composed of 719 individuals were evacuated from their respective homes, due to heavy rains and floods in Negros Occidental, brought about by the trough of Paeng, according to an October 27 report of the Negros Occidental Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.
Classes have been suspended since Oct. 26 in highly urbanized Bacolod City, the cities of Victorias, San Carlos, La Carlota, Sipalay, Bago, Talisay and Silay, as well as the municipalities of EB Magalona, Calatrava, Don Salvador Benedicto, Murcia, Toboso, Valladolid, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra, La Castellana and Hinobaan.
Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez has announced that there will still be no classes in Bacolod City today.
In an advisory, the RDRRMC 6 said that Negros Occidental, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo are on Charlie Protocol, or the highest EPR (Emergency Preparedness and Response Protocol) in connection with Tropical Storm Paeng.
Under the Charlie protocol, local government units have to activate the majority or all their response clusters, ensure operational readiness of critical lifelines, pre-emptively or forcibly conduct evacuation, recommend work or class suspension, and issue appropriate advisory and contingency plans, among others.
During a pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA) meeting in Iloilo, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau also identified 1,808 barangays in the region susceptible to flooding and landslides.
On the other hand, the highly urbanized cities of Bacolod and Iloilo, as well as Guimaras are on standby protocol, as they were identified as low risk.
The Negros Occidental Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office reported that those affected were 102 families or 524 individuals in San Carlos City, 20 families or 100 individuals in Calatrava, 20 other families or 87 persons in Sipalay City and two families, composed of eight persons in Moises Padilla.
In Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion and 32nd Civil Military Operations Company, who assisted the LGU’s evacuation efforts, reported that 375 families, composed of 2,209 persons, were affected the flashfloods. Suspension of classes remained in effect yesterday.
Each family received sleeping and first aid kits, as well as food packs from the Guihulngan City Social Welfare and Development Office.
Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, Provincial Disaster Management Program Division chief of Negros Occidental, said the disaster risk reduction and management offices would continue to monitor the weather situation as Paeng has already intensified into a tropical storm.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in an issued advisory, said that although Negros Occidental was not directly affected by the tropical disturbance, Negrenses should remain alert for isolated rain showers and thunderstorms, and those living along river banks should transfer to a safer area, especially during the night.*