Officials of Negros Oriental and Dumaguete City are preparing for super typhoon “Pablo” (international code name: Bopha) as it entered the Philippine area of responsibility last night.

Gov. Roel Degamo yesterday warned the public to prepare themselves, and for the Negros Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to ensure that mitigating measures are in place to minimize the impact of the tropical depression.

Satellite images of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration show that Negros Oriental and other parts of Central Visayas are in the path of the super typhoon, that is believed to be even stronger than “Sendong” that devastated parts of Mindanao, Dumaguete City, and other nearby areas in the province on Dec. 17, 2011.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, “Pablo” was located some 900 km southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur (6.4°N, 135.0°E) with maximum sustained winds of 185 kms. per hour, and gustiness of up to 220 kph.

PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said the typhoon is expected to bring about 20 to 30 millimeters of rains per hour within the 700-km diameter, classified as “heavy to intense.”

Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria, in a telephone interview yesterday, said he will call for an emergency meeting this morning with department heads, barangay captains and representatives from government line agencies and rescue teams to map out a contingency plan, and to avoid a repeat of the disaster left by “Sendong”, that was declared “the world’s most disastrous typhoon in 2011” by the National Disaster Reduction and Management Council.

Many of the families displaced by “Sendong” in Dumaguete City are still reeling from its effect and awaiting assistance from national and local governments.

Sagarbarria said he has mobilized rescue teams and transportation facilities, and directed the City Social Welfare Office to be on standby and prepare food packs and relief goods. He told Dumaguetnons to stock up on provisions, flashlights, candles, matches, water and other necessities.

He added that barangay halls and chapels might serve as temporary shelters in the event of flooding or preemptive evacuations, as the public schools are being used as accommodation facilities for athletes participating in the weeklong Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association games that started Sunday.

Sagarbarria also appealed to residents in low-lying areas that are prone to flood, and those along the banks of the Banica River, to undertake precautionary measures. He said the city government will relocate them to safer grounds when it becomes evident that “Pablo” will directly hit Dumaguete.

He lamented that, by now, the city government would have had procured two additional rubber boats if only his request to realign P1.4 million, originally intended for a power volume waterpump, had been approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod.*JFP