Wednesday, October 23, 2013


     Jakarta, Oct 23, 2013 (Antara) - Although the rainy season has just begun in Indonesia, parts of the country such as North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Jakarta, and Maluku have already witnessed floods.
         Every year, several regions in the country get flooded during the rainy season, which usually begins in August or September. This year, the rains arrived a little late, but they have already wreaked havoc in parts of the country.

         Earlier in the week, continuous and heavy rainfall caused the Batang Timbalun River to overflow, leading to floods in three villages in the sub-district of Bungus Teluk Kabung, Padang, West Sumatra Province.
         A joint team of the Padang Disaster Mitigation Office and the Padang Red Cross are still evacuating the flood-hit who were residing near the river.
         At least 1,500 houses were submerged by the deluge in the sub-district. Floodwaters, reaching a height of up to 1.5 meters, inundated public facilities such as schools, roads, and mosques.
         The Padang municipal authorities have temporarily shut several schools in the sub-district due to flooding.
         The floods submerged 11 elementary schools, a junior high school, and a senior high school in East, West and South Bungus villages in the sub-district.
        "Floods have submerged a number of elementary, junior, and senior high schools in Bungus. So, for the time being, we are closing the schools," said Mayor Fauzi Bahar last Saturday while visiting the flood-affected areas.
         Thousands of hectares of rice fields were flooded, one bridge collapsed, and one house was buried in a landslide in the flood-hit sub-district.
         The Padang mayor blamed the flooding on illegal logging activities in nearby hilly areas.
        "Trees were cut illegally by irresponsible people. When heavy rains fell, there were no water catchment areas and the water flowed down directly into the Timbalun River, which overflowed," he said.
         The mayor called for the protection of forests because the roots of trees can hold and help absorb water.
         Meanwhile, heavy rainfall also triggered floods in parts of North Sumatra Province - Tebing Tinggi District, Langkat District, Simalungun District, Pematang Siantar town, and Binjai.
         In Tebing Tinggi, floods hit four sub-districts - Bajenis, Tebing Tinggi, Rambutan, and Padang Hulu, said Wahid Sitorus, the Head of the Tebing Tinggi disaster mitigation agency.
         At least 1,500 houses were inundated in Tebing Tinggi town after the Padang and Bahilang Rivers overflowed.
         About 6,000 people were forced to move to higher ground after floodwaters, reaching a height of up to 1.5 meters, submerged their houses.
         Local authorities set up emergency tents in Tanjung Marula Hilir, Rambutan Sub-district, and North Bandar, Tebing Tinggi.
         Tebing Tinggi Mayor Umar Zunaidi Hasibuan visited the flood-affected areas and ordered the distribution of relief aid, such as instant noodles and mineral water, for flood victims without delay.    
    In Langkat District, floods triggered by continuous rains inundated 4,249 houses in the sub-districts of Stabat, Batang Serangan, Secanggang, Wampu, Tanjungpura, and Padang Tualang.
         "Around 4,249 houses have been inundated over the past three days," Agussalam, an official with the Langkat Disaster Mitigation Agency, said recently.
         Floodwaters reaching a height of up to one meter submerged 2,106 houses in Stabat, 910 in Batang Serangan, 547 in Padang Tualang, 431 in Secanggang, and 155 in Wampu.
         Thousands of schools were also flooded, forcing students to stay at home.
         "Schools have been closed temporarily because they have been flooded following the overflowing of the Sei Bengking River," said Ikhsan, a local resident.
         In Tanjungpura Sub-district, floods submerged 12 villages, namely West Pematang Cengal, Pematang Cengal, Karya Maju, Pantai Cermin, Lalang, Pekubuan, Pematang Serai, Pekan Tanjungpura, Baja Kuning, Paya Perupuk, Pulau Banyak, and Teluk Bakung.
         Of these villages, Pematang Cengal, West Pematang Cengal, and Karya Maju were the worst hit.
         Most of the villagers were evacuated to safer areas, said Head of Tanjungpura Sub-district, Surianto. He described the floods as the worst-ever to have hit the settlement areas in the city.
         The villagers moved to higher ground because their houses were submerged by floodwaters, reaching a height of up to 1.5 meters.
         About 450 hectares of rice fields were also flooded after the heavy downpour caused the Batang Serangan River to overflow, said Miswandi, Coordinator for Agricultural Pest Monitoring.
         Of the 450 hectares of rice fields, 80 hectares are located in Pekubuan, 180 hectares in Suka Maju, 70 hectares in Pantai Cermin, and 120 hectares in Karya Maju.
         "Agricultural officers are currently collecting data in other villages, which are also flooded," he stated.
         "This time, the floods have spread over a very large area," Miswandi noted, adding that the floods have most likely affected oil palm, rubber, and other plantations as well.
         Relief aid, comprising at least six tons of rice and 320 boxes of instant noodles, has been distributed among the flood victims.
    Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta is also bracing for floods, which are routine every year.
         Last year, 23 people died due to flooding and more than 100,000 families had to be evacuated after heavy rains struck Jakarta. The floods inflicted material losses of Rp1 trillion, or US$14 million.
         The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) plans to hold a joint exercise to prepare for possible flooding in Jakarta province.
        "The joint exercise will help us prepare an evacuation process, determine the amount of logistics to be deployed, and decide on which areas we need to send humanitarian aid," the spokesman for the agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said recently.
         Currently, the agency has 500 staff members provided by various government bodies, including the National Police, Military Forces, related ministries, and trained volunteers.
         The peak rainy season in Jakarta is usually between January and March.
         At the time Jakarta's Muslims celebrating Idul Adha on October 15, the Kampung Melayu area of East Jakarta was battling a flood.
         "The floodwaters reached a height of 30 to 100 centimeters in Kampung Melayu," said Iwan Samosir, the Head of the Emergency and Logistics Division of the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).
         Areas along the riverside are the first to get waterlogged every year during the rainy season in Jakarta.
    "The people, however, still choose to stay in their houses (near rivers). There is no plan for evacuation yet," Iwan said.
         In the mountain resort area of Puncak in Bogor, where heavy rains have fallen over the past two days, the river breached its banks and sped down the mountain, he added.
         In Ambon, Maluku Province, the Provincial Meteorological, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned the local people of possible flooding between October and December.
         The agency on October 23, sent a warning to officials in nine districts and two towns in Maluku, said Kifly Wakanno, the Secretary of the Maluku Disaster Mitigation Agency.
         Flood-prone areas in Maluku include Ambon, North Seram, Bula, and East Serang in Central Maluku District.
    In anticipation of floods, Ambon is being given priority. This is because flooding and landslides in Maluku's capital in July killed 11 people and displaced 2,007 families, or 8,872 people. Two people were also reported missing after the floods. ***4***

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