Pablo Leaves Cebu With One Casualty, No Major Damage Reported

CEBU CITY, Cebu - A sunny morning greeted Cebuanos a day after super typhoon Pablo was expected to hit the province even as officials here said no major damage rocked the province with only one casualty as a result of the weather disturbance reported.

One Arlene Pila was the lone casualty reported in Cebu as of press time yesterday. Pila was tending her farm in Boljoon when a coconut tree fell on her at the onset of the heavy rains and strong winds past 2 p.m. yesterday.

At least 17 houses in the coast of Boljoon, one of Cebu's oldest towns, located in the southeast part of the province, were washed away by big waves. Witnesses said the sea level suddenly rose, bringing rocks and debris to the highway and leaving the road impassable to buses and other vehicles.

The storm surge destroyed the seawall, and also damaged offices in the Boljoon municipal hall, according to municipal planning officer Engineer Corazon Medida. Some 300 to 400 people were evacuated to the church, a private school and a covered court.

In Santander town, on the southern tip of Cebu, a motorized outrigger or banca, with four men on board sank as the small sea craft attempted to cross rough seas to Negros Oriental about 9 am. The victims were quickly rescued and brought back to Santander for a medical checkup.

Last Tuesday, the weather bureau has already lifted the storm signal warning for the entire Visayas and the Cebu Coast Guard has allowed vessels to sail to various Visayan and Mindanao destinations.

Cebuanos were expecting Pablo to hit past 7 p.m. Tuesday night but a weather forecaster announced at 4 p.m. that the typhoon had already passed the southern tip of the province at 2:30pm. This immediately created a buzz on social networking site Facebook, where Cebuanos questioned the ability of PAGASA to issue weather forecasts.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said Cebu was fortunately spared from the typhoon, the strongest one in the country this year.

"We are blessed here in Cebu,"she said at the Capitol where she gathered the provincial disaster council for updates and was told in the afternoon that the storm had changed course.

"Let us all thank the Sto. Niño, Our Lady of Guadalupe and San Pedro Calungsod even as we continue to pray for protection," she said.

Classes in Cebu were still suspended yesterday, although work in private and public offices was back to normal.

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