By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
SUPER Typhoon Goni, the world’s most powerful tropical cyclone this year, weakened after making two landfalls in the Bicol region in eastern Philippines on Sunday, according to the state weather bureau.
A million people fled before the storm, locally named Rolly, hit and after the weather bureau warned that it would bring “catastrophic winds and intense torrential rainfall.”
Goni first made landfall in Bato, Catanduanes early Sunday morning before heading toward Tiwi, Albay. Typhoon Atsani, locally named Sioni, entered the Philippine area of responsibility shortly after, but it wasn’t expected to affect the country until after three days.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean each year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck central Philippines, killing more than 7,000 and forcing more than 5 million people to flee after wiping out entire villages.
Atsani had maximum sustained winds of 75 kph near the center and gusts of up to 90 kph, according to a separate bulletin issued at 11 a.m.
Goni was packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gusts reaching 295 kph, according to the agency’s weather bulletin.
The storm signal in the provinces of Albay and Camariñes Sur was initially lowered to level 4 from 5.
As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, storm signal No. 3 was raised over the southern portion of Zambales, Bataan, the southern portions of Pampanga and Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon including Polillo Islands, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Marinduque, the northwestern portion of Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island, and the northern portion of Oriental Mindoro.
The rest of Zambales, the rest of Pampanga, the rest of Bulacan, the southern portion of Tarlac, the rest of Occidental Mindoro, the rest of Oriental Mindoro and the southern portion of Nueva Ecija was placed under signal No. 2.
Signal No. 1 was raised over mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, the rest of Aurora, the rest of Nueva Ecija, the rest of Tarlac, Camariñes Sur, Camariñes Norte, Burias Island, Romblon and Calamian Islands.
Goni was expected to leave mainland Luzon and emerge over the Philippine Sea on Sunday evening.
Mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and the northern portion of Palawan, Capiz, the northern portion of Antique, Iloilo, Leyte and Cebu including Bantayan Islands, Biliran, the rest of Aklan, Samar and Eastern Samar were under Signal No. 1.
The Philippine government had evacuated almost 100,000 families or 346,993 people to prepare for Goni Office of Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo B. Jalad told an online news briefing on Sunday.
Of the total, 87,908 households came from the Bicol region, 3,266 from Calabarzon, 2,420 from Metro Manila, 1,958 from Central Luzon, 903 from Eastern Visayas and 88 from the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Mr. Jalad said about 4.2 million households within the typhoon’s 60-kilometer diameter were at risk. About 7.1 million households within the storm’s 120-km diameter were also at risk.
“Of this exposed population, 1.3 million within the 60 km belong to the poor population, while 2.4 million within the wider diameter belong to the poor population,” he added.
Mr. Jalad said about 105,000 houses within the 60-km diameter and 221,000 homes within the 120-km diameter of Goni are mostly made of light materials.
The international airport in Manila had to be closed for 24 hours starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday because of the storm. The operations of Metro Rail Transit, Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 and the Philippine National Railways were also suspended.
About 4,181 soldiers were on standby for search and rescue operations, while the Health department prepared P26.5 million worth of medicines and medical supplies, including health kits for the coronavirus disease 2019, Mr. Jalad said.
The Social Welfare department had more than P800 million worth of aid — P263 million in standby funds and P579 million worth of stockpiles, he added.
Meanwhile, six provinces in Bicol — Catanduanes, Camariñes Sur, Camariñes Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, and Ticao Island in Masbate — suffered power failures on Sunday morning because of the typhoon, according to the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
10 power plants in Northern, Western and Eastern Samar were switched off as preventive measures against the typhoon, the Energy department said. Three plants experienced power failure, and had been offline since Saturday.
Typhoon Goni had affected seven 69 Kilovolt (kV) transmission lines and three 230 kV lines in the Southern Luzon region. The Energy department said there was adequate supply of petroleum that can last for more than 20 days.
Typhoon Goni was expected to move toward the Marinduque-Southern Quezon area on Sunday afternoon, according to the weather bureau.
It would then pass over the Batangas-Cavite area until evening. Between 5 and 8 p.m., the storm’s eye will be located about 70 km south of Metro Manila, it added. — with Angelica Y. Yang