FLOODING. The spillway in Sitio Tabu-ay in Barangay Banban of Mabinay town, Negros Oriental province overflowed on Thursday (Jan. 12, 2023) due to the low-pressure area and the shear line that dumped heavy rains in the province. No casualties were reported even as Governor Roel Degamo ordered a province-wide suspension of classes at all levels in both public and private schools. (Photo courtesy of the 11th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Governor Roel Degamo suspended classes at all levels in Negros Oriental on Thursday as heavy rainfall brought by a low-pressure area and the shear line since Wednesday has inundated many parts of the province.

Degamo issued an executive order declaring the suspension of classes at all levels in public and private schools after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) tagged the province as under a Red Rainfall Warning level.

The Red Rainfall Warning is the highest rainfall advisory issued by the state weather bureau and means serious flooding and landslide threats, hence the community must be prepared to respond.

Some local government units, however, had already suspended classes with the mayors signing their respective executive orders, even as the province was still under Orange Rainfall Warning, in anticipation of the bad weather getting worse.

Degamo called for a briefing with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) Thursday morning for updates and so far, no casualties was reported, Marlo Quilnet, PDRRM officer-in-charge, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

“We are happy that so far, the different DRRM offices have reported zero casualties and only a few towns or cities have said there were minimal evacuees who moved to safer ground, such as temporarily staying with their relatives,” he said in mixed English and Cebuano.

Some of the evacuees reported in Sibulan town and Tanjay City will be given food aid through the Social Welfare Office here, he added.

Heavy and continuous rains for hours triggered flooding in rivers, with a number of spillways rendered impassable over the past two days, according to the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.

The Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion, headed by Lt. Col. Roderick Salayo, reported that several of the spillways were rendered impassable since late Wednesday including those in the barangays of Banban-Arebasore and Luyang but were passable after the floodwaters subsided.

Col. Romeo Cubo, Guihulngan City police chief, said the spillway in Barangay Banwage was also heavily affected by flooding with motorcycle riders waiting from time to time until it was safe to cross to the other side.

The Coast Guard here suspended sea travel around 8:45 a.m. Thursday for the Yohan, Aleson and Ocean Jet shipping lines plying the Dumaguete route, while those bound for Cebu via the barge and other vessels in the Tampi and Sibulan ports were at the discretion of the shipping companies.

One flight was canceled on Wednesday and another on Thursday, but Cebu Pacific, in an advisory to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here, said the reason was an “operational requirement” and not due to the weather disturbance.

Cebu Pacific said it had automatically rebooked the stranded passengers for free, said Frank Muaña Jr. of CAAP-Dumaguete.

Quilnet said they are still awaiting reports from the different DRRMOs in the province for consolidation.

Meanwhile, Degamo has ordered the PDDRMC to monitor another weather disturbance that could turn into a low-pressure area and threaten the country again in the next few days, Quilnet said. (PNA)