MANILA— Widespread damage in parts of the country is expected as Typhoon Rolly barrels closer to the Philippine landmass, the country's top disaster official said, describing the storm as possibly the strongest to hit since Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
In a press briefing Saturday, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Director Ricardo Jalad said "heavy to very heavy" damage is expected as some parts of the country are still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Quinta, which ravaged parts of Southern Luzon this week. This, even without the storm turning into a super typhoon, he added.
He said that local government units (LGUs) have started preparing for the typhoon, the world's strongest storm by far this year.
"Malawak na pinsala ang nakikita natin dito kahit hindi siya maging supertyphoon. Kung typhoon level lang ay aabot tayo sa typhoon signal number 4 at magkakaroon na lakas ng hangin na 171- 220 kph at asahan natin ang heavy-very heavy damage sa kaniyang daraanan kaya puspusan ang paghahanda ng LGUs," Jalad said.
(We expect widespread damage even if it does not turn into a super typhoon. If it's just typhoon level, we will reach typhoon Signal Number 4 and wind speeds will reach 171 to 220 kilometers per hour and we expect heavy to very heavy damage in affected areas that's why LGUs have been preparing.)
"Maaaring mag-super typhoon ito, maaaring pinakamalakas na bagyo simula ng kay Typhoon Yolanda, " Jalad said of the typhoon, which had been classified by the Japan Meteorological Agency as a "violent" typhoon.
(This might become a super typhoon, it might be the strongest storm since Typhoon Yolanda.)
Super typhoon Yolanda left some 6,300 dead when it ravaged the country in 2013, with some residents still reeling from the effects of displacement and death.
Rolly, the 18th storm to cross the country this year, was packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 265 kph as of 11 a.m., according to state weather bureau PAGASA.
Some parts of the country are still reeling from Typhoon Quinta, which struck a few days ago affecting parts of Southern Luzon. At least 20 people were killed.
NDRRMC earlier advised residents living in areas along the path of the typhoon to stay indoors or heed evacuation orders.
It also warned against underestimating the impact of the typhoon, which is forecast to bring destructive winds and torrential rains.
"If you are outside and you are exposed to this wind, the force of the wind can actually carry away or even unclothe you and this is very dangerous because other than that the wind is capable of breaking trees, breaking houses made of light materials," NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal said.
LGUs have also started evacuating their residents as the storm is expected to bring rains within the weekend. They were also expected to prepare "storm centers."
"Inaasahan natin na ang LGUs kasama ihanda ang storm centers. Kabilang sa mga andiyan sa sentro ng bagyo kailangan hindi iyan magiba, dapat gawin nila ngayon habang paparating ang bagyo hopefully hindi maging super typhoon," Jalad said.
(We are expecting LGUs to also prepare storm centers, including those who may be in the center of the typhoon. They should not be destroyed. They should do this now while the storm is barrelling closer. Hopefully, it does not turn into a super typhoon.)
Schools, he added, should be available to accept evacuees, while proper distancing protocols should also be enforced as the pandemic continues to affect the country.
The NDRRMC assured the public that there are enough funds to deal with the storm's impact, with the government having some P800 million worth of standby funds as well as relief packs and non-food items.
Pandemic health protocols are also in place in evacuation centers, he added.
The NDRRMC also urged the public to follow evacuation protocols, assuring residents that aid and resources are ready for them.
Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for updates.