High levels of rainfall in the Bukit Barisan mountain range, especially the borders between the Riau, West Sumatra and North Sumatra provinces over the past few days, have caused rivers in Rokan Hulu regency, Riau, to overflow.
Rokan Hulu Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Aceng Herdiana said a number of residential areas had been engulfed by flood water up to a meter high in the past couple of days. The worst-hit area is Aliantan village in Kabun district.
The bursting Aliantan River, which flows through the village, has swallowed up 220 homes, an Islamic elementary school and three small mosques.
“A home in the village was also severely damaged by a fallen tree that was felled by swift flood water. Luckily, no casualties were reported,” Aceng said on Monday.
According to him, flood victims in Aliantan village had received relief aid, with each family receiving a liter of cooking oil, a box of instant noodles, a can of sardines and bottled water.
“The aid was immediately handed over by Rokan Hulu Regent Achmad,” he said.
“Besides calling on residents to be patient and resilient in facing the problem, the regent also appealed to those who would be affected by the Aliantan River normalization project to not demand land compensation. The flooding in the village is caused by siltation and twisted river flows. That’s why it should be normalized to minimize the annual floods.”
Hundreds of homes along the Batang Lubuh River in the Rokan Hulu regency capital, Pasir Pangaraian, were also engulfed by flood water that was rising further. Like in previous years, the flooding in the area cut off the Trans-Sumatra highway connecting Riau and North Sumatra.
The condition is the same in the three villages in Rambah district affected by the Batang Lubuh River.
“Everyone hopes the rain will immediately stop so the floods will subside and residents will not have to take refuge. If not, a major flood will happen. The local administration has set up an emergency post and flood response command post equipped with rubber dinghies and fire trucks to anticipate the worst possibilities,” said Aceng.
“In Aliantan village, a command post has also been set up to evacuate residents. A 25-strong rapid reaction team from the Rokan Hulu BPBD, assisted by the Indonesian Military [TNI], police and local public order agencies will continue to monitor the situation around the clock,” he added.
Meanwhile, Riau BPBD head Said Saqlul Amri has warned residents in other areas, especially those living along river banks, to heighten their alertness as Riau is in the rainy season.
“The drought that caused forest fires and haze is over, but the floods, which haunt residents annually, have arrived,” said Said.
According to him, other areas in Riau prone to floods are Siak, Kampar, Kuantan Sengingi, Rokan Hilir and Meranti Islands regencies and Pekanbaru and Dumai municipalities.