By Jani Arnaiz
MAASIN CITY, Philippines– Weather officials raised Public Storm Signal No. 1 over Southern Leyte on Tuesday – the first storm that might hit the province in 17 years – and the largest elementary school in this provincial capital suspended classes in anticipation of heavy rains and possible flooding brought by Tropical Depression Ramon.
Pupils at the Tomas Oppus Pilot School were sent home about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after Storm Signal No. 1 was raised in Southern Leyte, the first in the province since Typhoon Bising in 1994.
Fishermen along the coast secured their fishing boats and residents along the Canturing River in Maasin were warned of the approaching cyclone. The Maasin port, the biggest in the province, was empty.
Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado said he alerted all local executives and their respective risk reduction management councils to prepare for “Ramon.”
“Our facilities and equipment are on standby and ready to be pulled out in case of emergency,” Mercado told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Ramon” was moving in a west-northwest direction at 17 kilometers per hour, according to the 5 a.m. bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
As of 4 a.m., the center of Ramon was estimated at 360 kilometers east southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It had maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center, Pagasa said.
Signal No. 1 has been raised over Eastern Samar, Western Samar, the Leyte provinces, Bohol, Biliran, Camotes Islands, Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, the Dinagat Group of Islands, and Camiguin Island.