EMERGENCY response teams in Quezon province gear up for evacuation and possible rescue operations on Sept. 25 as the northern part of the country braces for Typhoon Noru, locally named Karding, which was expected to make landfall in the province or in neighboring Aurora by Sunday night. — QUEZON PROVINCIAL GOV’T

EVACUATION of residents was underway on Sunday in several areas as northern Philippines, including the capital region Metro Manila, braced for the onslaught of a storm that quickly developed into a super typhoon, authorities said.

Super typhoon Karding, with designated international name Noru, was expected to make landfall Sunday evening in the northern portion of Quezon province or in neighboring Aurora, state weather bureau PAGASA said in its 2 p.m. Sunday bulletin.

“The possibility of an earlier (afternoon) landfall or close approach in the vicinity of Polillo Islands is not ruled out,” it added.

Tropical wind signal #5, the highest under PAGASA’s warning system, was raised over Quezon and Polilio Islands as of early Sunday afternoon.

Warning signals #1 to #4 were also up in various parts of Luzon, the Philippine northern mainland.

Quezon Governor Angelina “Helen” L. Tan said she has directed emergency response teams and other concerned offices to focus on preemptive evacuation and other preparedness measures, the provincial government said in a statement following a coordination meeting on Saturday.

Super typhoon Karding became a category 3 typhoon following an “explosive intensification” overnight on Saturday, PAGASA said.

A super typhoon is defined by the Philippine weather agency as having maximum wind speed above 185 kilometers per hour.

“Hopefully, this typhoon moves fast, although it brings strong winds,” said national disaster agency spokesperson Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro.

Authorities are on alert for landslides, flooding and destructive winds, he said.

PAGASA Deputy Administrator Nathaniel T. Servando, in a press briefing Sunday noon, warned that Karding, the 11th typhoon to enter the country this year, is “very dangerous.”

He said the agency is on full alert as it monitors possible changes on the typhoon’s strength and direction.

Meanwhile, the energy and telecommunications sectors as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were also preparing for emergency response measures.

The country’s major telecommunications companies, Globe Telecom, Inc. and PLDT, Inc., said on Sunday that they were prepared to deploy emergency services in areas where Karding may strike.

Globe said its technical and support teams were on standby in areas forecast to be impacted by the storm to ensure the stability of network operations.

“Network facilities also have generators ready in case of power outages in storm-hit areas,” the telco said in an e-mailed statement.

The company said it would deploy free call, charging, and WiFi services.

PLDT and its wireless arm said they had pre-positioned mission-critical manpower and equipment.

“Quick-response teams [were activated] and generator sets [were deployed] in Tuguegarao and Gattaran, Cagayan,” the PLDT group said in an e-mailed statement.

“Currently, there are no reported signal disruptions and power interruptions in these areas,” it added.

The group would also deploy free calls and free charging stations.

DPWH, for its part, said its disaster risk reduction and management teams were already deployed to strategic road sections.

“Quick-response teams consisting of 8,963 personnel … have been told to monitor the state of the roads in entire Luzon and Western Visayas as early as Saturday,” the department said in a statement.

For power infrastructure, Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said in a briefing Sunday afternoon that “the task force on energy resiliency is ready for response recovery for the typhoon.”

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said in its latest advisory that it has activated its command centers to monitor the status of transmission lines.

Meanwhile, Manila Electric Co., (Meralco) has placed its systems and personnel on alert, the listed power distributor announced on Sunday. “As a 24–hour service company, we are ready to respond to these types of emergencies. Our crews are on standby to attend to any trouble that may affect our facilities in areas that might be hit by the typhoon,” Meralco Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga said in a media release.

The Department of Agriculture also said its regional offices in areas on the typhoon’s path have prepositioned farm and livestock inputs for distribution to farmers who will be affected.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said in a statement on Sunday that he is in “constant communication” with key officials involved in disaster management. — Reports from Marifi S. Jara, Ashley Erika O. Jose, Arjay L. Balinbin, Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, and Reuters