Here comes ‘Karding’

The main island of Luzon, including heavily-populated Metro Manila, was placed under extreme emergency alert after “Karding” intensified into a super typhoon on Sunday.

Residents of coastal towns and low-lying areas were evacuated, flights were canceled and major sports events were shelved in anticipation of the approaching storm, the strongest to hit the country this year.

Packing sustained wind speeds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) an hour, the storm is barreling towards Luzon and is expected to make landfall around 80 kilometers northeast of the sprawling metropolis by Sunday evening.

Weather forecaster Robb Gile said “Karding’s” rapid intensification as it neared land was “unprecedented.” The agency said it increased by 90 kilometers per hour in 24 hours.

“Typhoons are like engines — you need a fuel and an exhaust to function,” Gile said.

“In the case of ‘Karding,’ it has a good fuel because it has plenty of warm waters along its track and then there is a good exhaust in the upper level of the atmosphere — so it’s a good recipe for explosive intensification.”

Barangay workers and residents of Barangay Sucat in Muntinlupa City put up modular tents that will house residents near Laguna de Bay who have been evacuated ahead of super typhoon Karding’s landfall in Quezon province on Sunday evening. | PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEY SANCHEZ MENDOZA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE@tribunephl_joey

Forced evacuations

Residents in several municipalities in Quezon province, where this latest storm could make a direct hit, were being evacuated from their homes, said Mel Avenilla from the provincial disaster office.

In the neighboring province of Aurora, residents of Dingalan municipality were being forced to seek shelter.

“People living near the coast have been told to evacuate. We live away from the coast so we’re staying put so far. We’re more worried about the water from the mountains,” said Rhea Tan, 54, a restaurant manager in Dingalan.

Tan said residents were securing the roofs of their houses and boats were being taken to higher ground while the weather was still calm.

“We’re even more anxious if the weather is very calm because that’s the usual indicator of a strong typhoon before it hits land,” Tan added.

“Karding” could have wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour when it makes landfall, the weather bureau said.

“We ask residents living in danger zones to adhere to calls for evacuation whenever necessary,” Philippine National Police chief General Rodolfo Azurin said.

In Manila, emergency personnel braced for the possibility of strong winds and heavy rain battering the city of more than 13 million people.

Forced evacuations have started in some “high risk” areas of the capital, officials said.

“NCR is prepared. We are just waiting and hoping it will not hit us,” said Romulo Cabantac, regional director for the Civil Defense Office, referring to the National Capital Region.

Calm before the storm

“Karding” comes nine months after another super typhoon devastated swathes of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

It is expected to weaken to a typhoon as it sweeps across central Luzon, before entering the South China Sea on Monday, heading towards Vietnam.

The weather bureau warned of dangerous storm surges, widespread flooding, and landslides as the storm dumps heavy rain.

It could damage farmlands in the heavily agricultural region, as well as inundate villages.

Storm signals raised

Some parts of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Quezon were placed under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 5.

Signal No. 4 was raised in Marikina, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela and Quezon City while the rest of Metro Manila was under Signal No. 3.

Flights, sea trips canceled

At least one international and 29 domestic flights were canceled as a precaution.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines bound for Amsterdam was put on hold while Philippine Airlines suspended 15 flights.

The Philippine Coast Guard said more than 1,200 passengers and 28 vessels were stranded in ports south of Metro Manila.

Quezon Gov. Helen Tan said fishermen in coastal communities were barred from heading to the sea.

Classes, work suspended

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday approved the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to suspend classes in public schools and work in government offices in the National Capital Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol Region.

However, private companies, offices, and schools may decide on whether to suspend classes or work.

Earlier, local government units in Metro Manila canceled classes for Monday. These are in Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Parañaque and Pateros.

Rizal, Tarlac City and Zambales also announced class suspensions.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court suspended work in all courts in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Luzon on Monday.

The order was signed by acting Chief Justice Marvic Leonen.

PBA, other sports events canceled

Major leagues called off their respective matches on Sunday.

The Philippine Basketball Association scrapped the scheduled Commissioner’s Cup games between NLEX and Meralco at 4:30 p.m. as well as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Converge at 6:45 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Also halted by “Karding” were the matches in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Shakey’s Super League.

All hands on deck

As the nation braced for the strongest typhoon to hit this year, government agencies and private firms have been mobilized to respond to possible outages and signal interruptions.

In a press statement on Sunday morning, the Manila Electric Company, the country’s largest power distributor, said it has put in place necessary measures to mitigate the possible impact of the typhoon, including the issuance of advisories on appropriate precautionary measures.

“As a 24-hour service company, we are ready to respond to these types of emergencies. Our crews are on standby to attend to any trouble that may affect our facilities in areas that might be hit by the typhoon,” Meralco Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga said.

“Meralco has consistently requested billboard owners and operators to temporarily roll their billboards up to prevent these structures from being toppled by the strong winds,” Zaldarriaga said.

Billboards that fall into electrical facilities are among the main reasons for power outages whenever there are strong winds.

Telecom firms on standby

Meanwhile, Globe Telecom Inc. said it started preparations for the potential impact of “Karding.”

“Globe’s technical and support teams are on standby in areas forecast to be affected by the storm to ensure the stability of network operations. Network facilities also have generators ready in case of power outages in storm-hit areas,” the company said.

The company is also ready to deploy Libreng Tawag, Libreng Charging, and Libreng WiFi services in areas that may be affected.

In separate statements, PLDT and Smart said they activated quick response teams and deployed generator sets in Tuguegarao and Gattaran, Cagayan.

PLDT and Smart’s Libreng Tawag (free calls) and Libreng Charging (free charging) stations are also ready for deployment and operations in areas that will be heavily impacted by the super typhoon to serve the communication needs of affected residents.

“We urge everyone to take necessary precautions and heed the alerts and warnings of local governments and disaster response authorities,” the statement read.

As early as Saturday morning, the Department of Agriculture said it has asked farmers to harvest mature crops and utilize post-harvest facilities; relocate animals, and clear drainage in irrigation and rice paddies from obstructions to prevent flooding.

Fisherfolk is advised to perform early harvest and mobilize post-harvest equipment and facilities; secure fishing vessels on higher ground, and dismiss sea travel as potentially rough conditions prevail over affected seaboards.

According to DA, all Regional Operations Centers are activated for an immediate response, and seeds for rice and corn, drugs, and biologics for livestock and poultry are prepositioned in safe storage facilities.

Gab Humilde Villegas,
Maria Romero, Jonas Reyes,
Anthony Ching, Pat Santos,
Paula Antolin, Alvin Murcia
and Mar Supnad.

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