A total of 335 individuals were forced to leave their homes in Central Luzon (Region 3) as rains dumped by Tropical Storm “Pepito” (international name: Saudel) caused deep floods, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) bared Wednesday.

09112020 RAIN ROMERO 1 1 1024x683 - NDRRMC: Typhoon ‘Pepito’ displaces at least 300 people; health protocols in evacuation centers ensured

NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said neither casualty nor major incident was reported to them although 253 persons were brought to 13 evacuation centers after fleeing from their homes at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught. He said the numbers are expected to go up after local DRRM offices start sending their reports.

Pepito made landfall over San Ildefonso peninsula in Casiguran, Aurora around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Initial information from the Aurora provincial DRRM office (PDRRMO) showed up to 174 families or 717 individuals were affected by the typhoon in the area.

“Medyo maaliwalas na po ngayon. Sa parteng Casiguran ay okay na po at sa parteng Dilasag. Ang nangyari lang po ay ‘yong mga kailugan ay natural lang na tumaas (the weather seems to be fair now. In Casiguran and Dilasag, [the situations are] already okay. The water in the rivers slightly rose but it’s just natural),” said Engr. Elson Egargue, head of Aurora PDRRMO, in a radio interview over dzMM.

In Pampanga, heavy rains submerged 20 barangays in Masantol and Macabebe towns while floods were also noted in Maharlika Highway Lopez town in Quezon province, Timbal said.

Lopez town mayor Rachel Ubana said a portion of Maharlika Highway in Barangays Canda Ibaba and Ilaya remained flooded as of noontime. The Talolong River also overflowed, causing floods in Barangay Poblacion.

The NDRRMC has yet to release the initial cause of damage by Pepito in the agriculture and infrastructure but Ubana estimated that at least 326 hectares of rice, seven hectares of vegetables, and several fish ponds were destroyed by the typhoon.

“In two weeks, mag-ha-harvest na po dapat ‘yong iba so and laki po ng damage sa agriculture po (some of it are suppposed to be ready for harvest so the damage to agriculture is really big),” Ubana noted.

Citing ground reports from the Lopez municipal DRRMO, Ubana said a total of 4,870 individuals were evacuated in 25 barangays in the area. 

Ubana expects that the number will increase once they receive reports from the other barangays. Lopez town has a total of 95 barangays.

Meanwhile, Timbal assured the public that safety measures were being observed in evacuation centers to prevent the transmission of coronavirus among the displaced persons.

“Mayroon po tayong Memo 54 na nandoon na po ang guidance ng NDRRMC for the management of evacuation procedures for emergencies during COVID-19 [pandemic] (We have the Memorandum No. 54 which provides for the guidance released by the NDRRMC for the management of evacuation procedures for emergencies during [the] COVID-19 [pandemic]),” Timbal told the Manila Bulletin.

NDRRMC Memorandum 54 states that local government units (LGUs) must ensure physical distancing in evacuation centers and provide due priority to vulnerable citizens such as elderly, pregnant women, children, persons with disability, and individuals with underlying conditions.

Individuals will also be subjected to temperature and health screening before they are allowed to enter evacuation centers while wearing of face masks and cleaning and disinfection of the facilities are required. 

Safety responders are also mandated to wear personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other protective gears during response operations.

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