WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Philippine Embassy today issued an urgent reminder to Filipinos in the eastern seaboard of the United States for them to heed warnings from authorities and stay out of the way of what is feared to be one of the most devastating storms to hit the country.
He said Filipino leaders in Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have informed the Embassy that all their members are accounted for.
Ambassador Cuisia issued the new reminder shortly before Hurricane Sandy starts wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the East Coast that would affect more than 60 million people, including an estimated 460,000 Filipinos.
“What is barreling towards us is one of the most powerful storms to strike the US mainland,” Ambassador Cuisia told members of the Filipino-American community in the fourth advisory issued since 28 October.
“Ondoy is nothing compared to the devastation that Hurricane Sandy is expected to unleash,” the envoy said, referring to the powerful typhoon that struck Manila in 2009 and which left more than 700 people dead and billions of pesos in damage.
“As the situation here in the East Coast would only get worse, I would like to underscore the urgent need for Filipinos, particularly in the New York and New Jersey areas, to stay indoors until US authorities declare that the danger posed by Hurricane Sandy is over,” the envoy said.
He said Filipinos should have stocked up food and other provisions by now as authorities expect as many as 10 million people in more than 13 states to be affected by power outages that could last several days.
Ambassador Cuisia said weather forecasters expect the superstorm, with its 90-mph winds, to gain strength once it makes landfall near Cape May in New Jersey early Monday evening. It is expected to trigger 11-foot-high storm surges that would result in massive flooding in New York and other coastal areas.
He said that while the Embassy and the Consulate General in New York suspended their operations on Monday, they are manned by essential staff who were placed on 24-hour standby to render assistance to affected Filipinos.
Ambassador Cuisia said personnel will remain in the Embassy as long as necessary to render assistance and respond to phone queries from Filipinos, particularly tourists, seamen, businessmen and workers who may find themselves caught in the middle of the storm. ###