The Ministry of Water Resources issued a flood warning on Sunday to all provinces along the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers, as heavy rainfall in Vietnam and on the Cambodian coast is likely to raise water levels during the week.
Although the current level of the Mekong is normal at all checkpoints, farmers and residents around the river and tributary rivers in Strung Treng, Kratie, and Kompong Cham provinces should prepare for a flood, which is likely to occur in four or five days, said the statement, signed by Minister Lim Kean Hor.
“Mekong River water will flow into tributary rivers in the affected areas…especially in upper Mekong area…. Upon receiving the above information please alert authorities and citizens along the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers…to be careful,” said the letter, which was sent out to the governors of the three provinces.
According to the ministry, the water level in Stung Treng province is currently at 9.10 meters and is counted as a flood when it reaches 10.70 meters, while the water levels in Kratie province have to reach 22 meters before it is counted as a flood. In Kompong Cham the water stood at 13 meters on Sunday and will reach flooding levels at 15.20 meters.
The flood warning was issued to alert farmers in the area and to give them time to move their belongings away from the river, said Seth Vannareth, a meteorologist for ministry’s meteorology department. Floods in these areas are common during the rainy season, but it is still important to give people enough time to prepare, she added.
“There is a cyclone currently over northern Vietnam and another one is expected over Cambodia. We currently have heavy rain in the coastal areas so the water of the Mekong River is likely to rise for a few days,” she said, adding that water levels will continue to rise a few days after the rain passes as more water finds its way to the river.
Reached by telephone Sunday, Kratie Provincial Governor Kham Phoeun said he had received the warning and alerted relevant officials and NGOs, telling them to be prepared to help villagers affected by flooding. Villagers are reinforcing the riverbanks with sand bags and efforts will be concentrated in the two most vulnerable districts of Chhlong and Chet Borei, he added.
“We, all levels of authority, are ready to help the villagers and villagers of those two districts have an information board showing water levels,” Mr Phoeun said.
In Stung Treng province, villagers living near Sre Pok river, a tributary of the Mekong, are likely to be hardest hit if it floods, said Provincial Governor Loy Sophat.
“We also prepare hills, boats and food if the flood is serious,” he added.