DENR to help clear ‘Ompong’-affected roads

MANILA The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will help clear roads of trees that might topple during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

"We already alerted our personnel about helping cut fallen trees to clear such roads," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Thursday during the government's command conference for the looming onslaught of "Ompong".

He noted DENR has provisions for such work.

Cimatu assured DENR's action, noting rescue and relief operations will be delayed if fallen trees continue blocking roads.

Fallen trees in central Philippines which Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged in 2013 rendered a number of roads there impassable, he recalled.

The road blockage delayed rescue and relief operations and made them more difficult to undertake, he noted.

In its 5 p.m. severe weather bulletin released Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported "Ompong" as packing maximum sustained winds of 205 km. per hour (kph) near its center and gustiness of up to 255 kph.

PAGASA monitoring also showed the typhoon moving west-northwest at 25 kph.

Forecast location of "Ompong" on Friday afternoon is 360 km. east of Aurora province's Casiguran municipality, the weather bureau noted.

If the tropical cyclone continues moving along its forecast track, PAGASA said it will make landfall at the Cagayan-Isabela area on Saturday morning.

Earlier, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel PiAol said "Ompong" might affect some 1.2 million hectares of farms planted to rice and corn that are due for harvesting.

The DA projects a worst-case scenario of up to PHP7 billion in rice crop damage in the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions alone, he noted.

Such damage includes palay that is ready for harvesting, he said.

PiAol said his department continues monitoring "Ompong".

"We already activated our disaster risk reduction and management operations center," he also said at the command conference.

He also advised farmers to harvest crops that are already mature.

The DA, he said, has already positioned farm inputs, such as seeds and other planting materials, for typhoon-affected farmers, as well as hauling trucks for animal evacuation. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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