More than 4,000 people were moved to safer ground Monday as Typhoon Betty was raised to Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 2, with Cagayan and Batanes provinces just beginning to feel the strong wind and rains that leveled some old structures in northern Luzon.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour and 190 kph gusts, Betty was spotted 470 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan while moving west-northwestward at 10 kph, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.
The former super typhoon, with international name Mawar, is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday, the state weather bureau said.
The center of the eye of the typhoon was estimated at 445 km east of Calayan, Cagayan at 5 p.m. Monday. Storm signal No. 2 was raised over Batanes and the northeastern portion of Cagayan, including Babuyan Islands.
Signal No. 1 was hoisted over the rest of mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, the northern and central portions of Aurora, Quirino, the northeastern portion of Nueva Vizcaya, the northern portion of Catanduanes, the northeastern portion of Camarines Sur, Polilio Islands, the northern portion of Camarines Norte, and the northern and central portions of Ilocos Sur.
Betty is forecast to steadily weaken over the next five days due to cooler ocean waters, and dry air intrusion. It may be downgraded into a severe tropical storm on late Thursday or early Friday and into a tropical storm on late Friday or early Saturday.
In its 8 a.m. report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said 4,552 people or 1,170 families in Western Visayas and Cordillera were evacuated due to typhoon Betty.
The NDRRMC said 3,692 people or 947 families were staying inside 22 evacuation centers, while 525 people or 131 families were taking shelter in other places.
A total of 4,831 were preemptively evacuated in Central Luzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas.
NDRRMC spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raffy Alejandro said these figures were expected to rise as the evacuation tally from the northern provinces of Cagayan and Batanes comes in.
Betty is expected to dump heavy rains over Batanes, Babuyan Islands, the northern portion of mainland Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra, and Benguet until Wednesday morning, the state weather bureau said.
The typhoon is also enhancing the southwest monsoon or habagat, which may affect the eastern portion of Central Luzon, eastern and southern portions of Southern Luzon, and most of Visayas, the weather bureau added.
Some 14,000 military, police, and coast guard personnel are on alert to help local governments with the typhoon response, the NDRRMC said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said some 800,000 food packs had been deployed across the country.
Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said a “big chunk” of relief assistance was allocated in northern Luzon, the projected path of the typhoon. Some 80,000 food packages were positioned in Cagayan while at least 40,000 were delivered in Ilocos Region, he said.
Mayors in the National Capital Region are also prepared for monsoon rains, said San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, president of the Metro Manila Council.
“Since Wednesday of last week we have been preparing already, in fact here in San Juan I’ve called for a city disaster risk reduction and management council meeting, and of course at the regional level here in Metro Manila we have done the same,” he told ANC.
Metro Manila mayors are also studying possible long-term solutions to the flooding problem in the region, Zamora said.
“Just a month ago, the Metro Manila Mayors went to Netherlands to study their best practices, and one thing that we learned there, number one, a huge percentage of the Netherlands is below sea level. Why are they protected from water from the seas coming in? Because they have set up a lot of dams and dikes, which prevents water coming in,” he said.
“So this is something that we have studied during our visit. Of course we will see which among those practices can be applied here in Metro Manila.”
At least eight sea trips were canceled on Monday as companies anticipated the impact of typhoon Betty.
Montenegro Shipping Lines and Antienza Interisland Ferries canceled their trips to and from Coron to El Nido and Culion.
Bunso Transport also suspended its trip from Coron to San Jose Mindoro.
Aleson Shipping Lines and Montenegro Shipping Line canceled trips to Dapitan.
Thirty domestic flights were canceled in the National Capital Region and nine seaports were non-operational in Calabarzon and Western Visayas.
A total of 109 classes and 67 work schedules were suspended due to the typhoon.
Assistance worth P927,000 has been provided to the victims, the NDRRMC said.
In its 11 a.m. advisory, the state weather bureau said Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 2 is hoisted in Batanes, the northeastern portion of Cagayan and Babuyan Islands.
TCWS No. 1 is raised over the rest of mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, the northern and central portions of Aurora, Quirino, the northeastern portion of Nueva Vizcaya, the northern portion of Catanduanes. the northeastern portion of Camarines Sur, Pollilo Islands, the northern portion of Camarines Norte, the northern and central portions of Ilocos Sur.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said rains from typhoon Betty may unleash floods and landslides in some parts of Luzon.
It cautioned residents in parts of northern Luzon to brace for heavy rains between 50 and 200 millimeters until Tuesday, including Batanes, Babuyan Islands, the northern portion of mainland Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra, and Benguet.
Rain will continue in these areas until Friday, the agency added.
Flooding and rain-induced landslides are possible, especially in areas highly susceptible to these hazards, as well as in localities that had considerable amounts of rainfall for the past few days.
Cayanan said Betty is forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. on Monday ordered the mobilization of more than 27,000 of its personnel to assist the local government units (LGUs) in responding to the threat of typhoon Betty, which brought heavy rains, especially in Northern Luzon.
Acorda said police were instructed to coordinate with local officials for possible preemptive evacuation, rescue and relief operations in areas that are now experiencing bad weather conditions, as well as those which would likely be hit by the cyclone.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) announced that it has around P500 million worth of quick response funds (QRF) which can be used for relief efforts that might be needed in the aftermath of Betty.