‘Florita’ pounds Northern Luzon

Tropical storm “Florita” pounded Northern Luzon on Tuesday, bringing rains to much of the main island, forcing the suspension of work and classes and inducing landslides in Ilocos and Bicol.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 150 km/hour, made landfall over Maconacon, Isabela early in the morning.

“Florita” was moving generally northwestward and was forecast to traverse the northern portion of Isabela and mainland Cagayan. It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 15 areas in Ilocos were underwater while at least three roads and one bridge remained unpassable in Bicol.

The storm also suspended work and classes in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Bicol and Cordillera Administrative Region.

Hundreds fled to evacuation centers in Abra, the Mountain Province and Isabela after their homes were damaged by strong winds and heavy rains.

The storm also closed the courts in several Northern Luzon provinces.

In Cagayan Valley, 14 barangays were hardest hit, prompting the swift evacuation of residents.

Capt. Rigor Pamitan, spokesperson of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, said the number of affected families rose to 156, most of them staying in evacuation centers.

The Supreme Court suspended work in Santiago, Isabela; Cordon-Dinapigue, Isabela; Ramon-San Isidro, Isabela; and Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Metro Manila and neighboring provinces were not spared.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. suspended classes at all levels in public schools as well as operations in government offices in Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Zambales and Bataan until Wednesday.

“The heavy rains pose possible risks to the general public based on the recommendations of the Office of Civil Defense,” the Office of the Press Secretary announced.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and said relief stockpiles and disaster operation funds are on standby.

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