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Brace for La Niña until early 2022

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recently said that La Niña may develop in the last quarter of the year and continue until the first quarter of 2022.
“Based on the latest forecasts by most climate models and experts’ judgments, there is a 70-80% chance of La Niña forming in the last quarter of 2021,” PAGASA stated. It added that five to eight tropical cyclones, most of which are forecast to make a landfall, are also expected to enter or develop in the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
The provincial disaster risk reduction and management office was asked about Southern Leyte’s readiness for La Niña and PDRRMO officer Venancio Samalca said, “We have a preparedness plan composed of measures that address situations during habagat, typhoons, low pressures, flooding and other disturbances. Ready ta, sa umaabot nga bagyo kung naa man gali.”
Samalca also said that there are 499 barangays in Southern Leyte that are considered hazard zones, which are near riverbanks, and low lying areas prone to flooding.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council had already made necessary preparations in view of the La Niña happening during the COVID-19 pandemic,” NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said, referring to the NDRRMC Memorandum 54, series of 2020. The memorandum states that physical distancing must be observed in evacuation centers; responders and evacuees must wear protective gear such as face masks and face shields; and the distribution of relief goods must follow COVID-19 mitigation measures.
During floods and landslides, people flee to cramped evacuation centers, which can be designated temporary shelters, schools or covered courts. Evacuation centers are feared to become hotbeds of coronavirus infections as there might be difficulty in maintaining physical distancing in temporary shelters.
Timbal said that evacuation centers must have a specific number of people that will be housed to ensure that the physical distancing will be enforced. The health conditions of those who will be evacuated should also be monitored regularly.
“Ultimately, the objective is to achieve zero casualty and zero COVID-19 community transmission,” Advocacy group Agap Banta said.

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