Tropical Storm Ambo (international name: Vongfong) battered Luzon, as it is expected to bring heavy to moderate rains over its northern part, when it weakened slightly on Saturday morning, state weather bureau PAGASA said on Saturday.
This, as President Rodrigo Duterte went home to Davao to his family early Saturday morning after about two months in lockdown in Malacanang.
Ambo, the first storm of 2020, was spotted 40 kilometers northwest of Sinait, Ilocos Sur at 10 a.m., packing winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and 100 kph gusts, said PAGASA.
Moving north northwest at 25 kph, Ambo will dump moderate to heavy rains over Cagayan Valley, and light to moderate with at times heavy rains over Ilocos and the Cordillera regions, and the northern portions of Aurora and Zambales.
Area residents were advised to look out for potential floods and landslides.
PAGASA said Ambo earlier damaged houses and downed trees and electric posts in the provinces of Quezon, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan.
Ambo left at least one dead in Quezon, where it made its 7th landfall late Friday, said local officials.
Moderate to heavy rains are also expected over Batanes and Babuyan Islands by Sunday before Ambo leaves the Philippine area of responsibility on Monday, PAGASA said.
The following areas, which may be whipped by 61 to 120 kph winds within 24 hours, remain under signal number 2 :
Babuyan Islands, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Abra.
Signal number 1, where wind speeds of 30 to 60 kph may be experienced within 36 hours, is hoisted over:
Batanes, Cagayan, Western portion of Isabela (Sta, Maria, Sto. Tomas, Delfino Albano, San Pablo, Cabagan, Tumauini, Quirino, Mallig, Quezon, Roxas, San Manuel, Burgos, Gamu, Reina Mercedes, Luna, Aurora, Cabatuan, San Mateo, Ramon), Western portion of Nueva Vizcaya (Villaverde, Solano, Bayombong, Ambaguio, Bambang, Kayapa, Aritao, Santa Fe), Kalinga Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, La Union, and Pangasinan.
Ambo first made landfall over San Policarpo in Eastern Samar and later hit Dalupiri Island, Northern Samar; Capul Island, Northern Samar; Ticao Island, Masbate; Burias Island, Masbate; and San Andres in Quezon.
The water level of Angat Dam, the main water source of Metro Manila, was 190.19 meters as of 6 a.m., up by 2.66 meters from Friday, said PAGASA.
Felled trees, knocked down power lines, ripped off roofs of structures were evident hours after Typhoon Ambo barreled across the country from the Samar provinces heading to Central Luzon.
Various reports showed the trail of destruction, which some residents said was like a double whammy as the country was also battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Catbalogan City, Samar, a video on Thursday showed that the harsh winds of Ambo had destroyed the covers of stalls in the market.
Due to strong waves, a ship anchored near the market had slammed into the port. Larges waves later caused flooding in the port.
Another video recorded in Oras, Eastern Samar showed branches of trees being swept by the strong winds.
Houses in another barangay proved no match against the rain and winds. A lone tree was saved from falling down by electric wires.
In Barangay Rawis, Can-avid in Eastern Samar, residents could only watch as the storm destroyed uprooted coconut trees and houses.
Many residents were also left without electricity and mobile phone signal. The roads along San Antonio, Northern Samar were strewn with felled trees and other debris showing the typhoon’s wrath.
The Catubig River in Las Navas, Northern Samar overflowed while roofs of houses were blown by the wind.
Ambo’s sixth landfall in Quezon has electric posts in Gumaca swinging due to strong winds.
While evacuating residents, a barangay captain in the area faced another challenge after the roof of her house was blown away.
Trees and structures in the area were also damaged by the storm.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 families in Mulanay, Quezon were evacuated. The local government unit assured that quarantine protocols were being observed in evacuation centers.
Some Catanauan, residents were also evacuated.
Residents of Barangay Sabang in Baler, Aurora have tied down the roofs of their houses in preparation for Ambo.
A resident said his house near the the coast had been destroyed thrice by storms.
Meanwhile, another resident called for help for alternative livelihoods.
Meanwhile, more than 80 families from coastal areas of Dingalan were evacuated as a preemptive measure due to the threat of a storm surge.
Individuals quarantined in Barangay Villa were also evacuated as the facility was stationed near a mountain that may be affected by a landslide.
Strong winds and rain prevailed over Siniloan, Laguna as the eye of Ambo neared the area. Due to the incessant rains, the water level of Laguna Lake was also observed to increase.
In preparation for the storm, authorities immediately brought down tarpaulins from billboards.
Meanwhile, some residents left their houses and braved the storm to move to evacuation centers, including a 90-year-old grandmother.
Initial information from authorities showed that 76 families have evacuated from the 3rd and 4th district of Laguna.
Residents of Pangil, meanwhile, tied their boats to trees to prevent these from being carried away by the strong current while others brought their boats to the side of the road.
The Provincial Government of Laguna also reminded residents to follow protocols amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The city disaster risk reduction and management office of Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija distributed rescue items and equipment as the city is one of the flood-prone areas in the province.
However, authorities have yet to conduct a preemptive evacuation in the area.
According to the Cabanatuan CDRRMO and PDRRMO, they are not expecting widespread flooding in the city.
Despite this, 14 evacuation centers in Cabanatuan have been readied for typhoon victims. Authorities said they will add five more to ensure physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic./Stacy Ang