By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Super Typhoon Goni pounded the eastern Philippines with ferocious winds early Sunday forcing the evacuation of a million people.
Even the airport in the capital Manilla was closed, while elsewhere, people were hiding or waiting to be evacuated.
“My family is in panic. It’s a high alert signal they received from authorities,” Virgie Overdevest told Worthy News.
The teacher and mother of one anxiously looked outside her window. “Our house is strong, but the worst is when a tsunami comes,” she said.
The Christian woman, who previously survived earthquakes and even rebel clashes in the Philippines, was among many trusting God and trying to remain calm amid the storm. “There are so many people who are really in vulnerable areas,” said Ricardo Jalad, who heads the government’s disaster-response agency. “We’re expecting major damage.”
Authorities warned of “catastrophic” conditions in the region expected to take the hardest hit, where more than 300,000 have fled their homes.
The strongest typhoon of the year so far made landfall on Catanduanes Island at 4:50 am (2050 GMT Saturday) with maximum sustained wind speeds of 225 kilometers (140 miles) per hour, the state weather forecaster said.
Over the next 12 hours, “catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall” would be experienced in the Bicol region, it said. The area covers the southern end of the main island of Luzon and Catanduanes.
Goni — which intensified into a “super” typhoon as it neared the Philippines — comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago.
Adding to difficulties is the coronavirus pandemic amid concerns lack of social distancing could further spread infections among evacuees.
So far, more than 7,000 people have died in the Philippines of COVID-19 on a population of nearly 110-million people, according to official estimates.
The death toll is relatively low compared to many other nations, but hospitals in several areas of the country lack equipment or personnel to deal with an influx of seriously ill patients.
Adding to misery were reports that the force of the typhoon ripped off roofs of two evacuation centers where the occupants had to be moved to the ground floors.
Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said Saturday that “almost a million” people had been evacuated from their homes in the Bicol region alone.
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