The Bone River in Gorontalo breached its banks on Thursday, inundating swaths of Bone Bolango regency as well as the northern part of Gorontalo city.
Twenty-six villages in the regency's six districts were hit by the flood. The waters forced 5,407 residents, including 22 infants and 22 toddlers, to flee their homes, Bone Bolango regent Hamim Pou said.
The districts affected by the flood included Bone, Suwawa, North Suwawa and Botupingge. Floodwaters also swept away the Molintogupo bridge, which connected South Suwawa to Central Suwawa.
Taludaa village in Bone district accounted for the greatest share of evacuees, with 894 residents fleeing their homes. Tingkohubu and East Tungkohubu villages in Suwawa district recorded 700 and 626 evacuees respectively.
“This is temporary data as our officers are still collecting data in difficult conditions in the field," Hamim said as quoted by kompas.com on Friday, adding that the Search and Rescue (SAR) team had been evacuating residents since Thursday.
The flood also affected the northern part of Gorontalo city. The local administration reported that some 1,150 residents were affected by 1.5-meter high waters in the area, tempo.co reported.
“We are still focusing on evacuating and rescuing residents who have been trapped by the flooding,” Gorontalo SAR operational head M. Rizal said.
The SAR team has established a public kitchen to feed the inhabitants of eight shelters in Bone Bolango and Gorontalo, where displaced residents are staying and storing their belongings.
“The water rose so fast that we could only carry important items, and we left the rest behind,” North City resident Bagis Suleman told Kompas.
Heavy rains at the headwaters of the Bone River are believed to have caused the flood. The flood spread to the forest enclave of Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park before hitting Bone Bolango and Gorontalo City. (mfp)