COVID-19 protocol set, evacuation sites ready as 'Auring' approaches: NDRRMC

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2021 01:53 PM

COVID-19 protocol set, evacuation sites ready as 'Auring' approaches: NDRRMC 1
A family eats dinner in a makeshift shelter at Jacinto P. Elpa National High School in Tandag town, Surigao del Sur on Friday, February 19, 2020. Residents evacuated after strong winds and large waves hit communities, before the expected landfall early Sunday morning of Tropical Storm Auring, the country’s first storm of the year, in the Caraga Region. ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA - Evacuation centers in areas poised to be affected by the first tropical storm to hit the Philippines in 2021 have been prepared for evacuees, with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, the office leading the country’s disaster response said Saturday. 

In a public press briefing, Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said they met with local officials Wednesday and Friday to prepare for evacuations expected with the impact of Tropical Storm Auring, which is seen to trigger floods and landslides in high-risk areas on its path. 

"Kahapon nga po kinumpirma ng local governments at regional disaster councils 'yung isinagawang kahandaan in terms of pagsasaayos ng evacuation center para matuluyan ng kababayan natin sa preemptive evacuation... iniulat kahapon pati ang imbentaryo in case of emergency," Timbal said, adding that thousands of families have already been evacuated. 

(Yesterday, local governments and regional disaster councils have confirmed readiness in terms of preparing evacuation sites. The preparedness in preemptive evacuation was also reported yesterday, along with the inventory in case of emergencies.) 

 Video Courtesy of PTV

The NDRRMC is also encouraging people in areas that may be hit badly by the storm to evacuate, citing its importance in avoiding crowding amid a lingering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Surigao del Sur has already moved thousands of residents to safer ground. 

"Mas pinapahalagan natin at ine-emphasize ang preemptive evacuation, para maaga pa lang hindi na nagmamadali ang mga tao para maobserbahan pa rin ang minimum health standards sa evacuation center. Ang guidance sa LGUs [dapat] nananatiling hindi magsiksikan," Timbal said. 

(We give value and emphasis to preemptive evacuation so evacuees do not have to really rush and so they could still observe minimum health standards in evacuation centers. We have guided LGUs and reminded them that these should not be cramped.) 

Timbal added that regional and national disaster councils have also provided personal protective equipment for evacuation centers. 

“Nagkaroon tayo ng pagpapalabas ng memorandum 54 kung saan in-adjust natin ang lahat ng response activities para masiguro na 'yung minimum health standards against COVID-19 ay maisagawa ng rescuers at nire-rescue,” Timbal said.

(We issued memorandum 54 wherein we adjusted all our response activities to make sure that minimum health standards against COVID-19 are being done by rescuers and those rescued.) 

The latest PAGASA bulletin said Auring has maintained its strength over the Philippine Sea, east of Mindanao. 

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 has been raised in several areas in Visayas and Mindanao, with thousands of families already evacuated as the storm approached.