Yesterday morning, we were told that Bangar had flooded and the water that has been flowing from the ulu and down the mountains had been non stop and bringing debris down with it. The Minister said we have to go to Bangar in the afternoon to have a quick check. I was quite nervous as it has been a while since I have been on a speed boat trip to Temburong. The last time must have been when my father was still the DO there way back in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have seen Temburong exactly three times, one on a cruise ship Tanjung Bakarang and the other two times visiting TAP's Bangar Branch when I was the head honcho for TAP (I went by car).
I am not particularly fond of rivers or seas or any water that I cannot see the bottom. I was trained to swim where the water is crystal clear and the bottom of the pool is visible. Anything else is not for me. But today there was a crisis and like it or not, here we go. And funnily enough, the journey was not that bad after all. Along the way we could see the fast flowing flood laden river and a lot of logs and debris in the waters. Nearer Bangar, we could see houses under water.
When we got there, the flood had subsided but there was still a large area of Bangar still under water. Roads have indeed became canals. Motorcars being replaced by speedboats.
And what worried us more was the pile of logs and debris at the Bangar Bridge. With more rains being predicted, we are worried that more logs and debris will come and affect the safety of the bridge's columns.
The rain that fell in Temburong the night before was 267mm which is roughly equivalent to the average of 2 months rain. So that night's rain was equal to 2 months' worth of rain and that's the amount of water that flowed down the river. According to the experts, that kind of rain is a 1 in 10 storm event meaning the likelihood such rain happening is about once every 10 years. No matter how much you prepare for it, you just cannot prepare for all contigencies. The best that can be done is to develop a flood early warning system. Hopefully with the National Crisis Management Centre which is being set up, such system can be in place in the future.
The other thing that we can do is to learn to live with flood. In Tutong where many people live in the flood plain, it is very difficult to control. The best that can be done is to prepare people for it such as building an all weather road, improve the channel and other waterways, ask people to build houses higher or on stilts etc.
As for Bangar, once again, our sincere thanks and appreciation to the heroic men of the Fire and Rescue Services who worked hard to remove the logs and debris.