News: Thousands caught in flood misery

Jakarta Post, 17 Jan 2013

The number of Jakartans forced to leave their flooded homes increased to at least 9,374 on Wednesday afternoon, increasing from around 6,100 on Tuesday according to the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), as rain continued to fall across the city and the upstream areas of West Java.

Most residents of Kampung Pulo, East Jakarta, have taken refuge as their neighborhood has been inundated by the Ciliwung River since Tuesday.

Some residents decided to stay, using upper floors or attics in the hope that the waters would recede in less than a day.

Muktarom’s family got it wrong. The 40-year-old father, his wife Desi and their 1-year-old daughter found themselves stranded on the upper floor of their house on Wednesday, rescue workers could not reach them due to the strong current.

“They refused to evacuate yesterday as they did not expect the flood water to get any higher. The flood was about 2 meters deep yesterday but now it has reached almost 4 meters. I’m worried about the baby,” Desi’s sister Enok, 45, told The Jakarta Post as she waited for her family to leave their house on the dry side of the neighborhood on Wednesday.

Flood waters have affected residential areas across 50 subdistricts of the capital in the last two days, affecting over 20,000 families — a total of 64,336 people.

The densely populated slums suffering from the overflowing Ciliwung River in Bidara Cina and Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta, and Bukit Duri in South Jakarta, are the worst hit with recorded water levels of up to 3 meters deep. BPBD reported that there were a total of 5,808 displaced people in the three areas alone.

Water from the overflowing river also cut access from connecting Kampung Melayu and Tebet, inundating Jl. KH Abdullah Syafei, especially the part of the road that crosses over the Ciliwung.

Bambang Suryaputra, BPBD’s spokesman, said that the administration has set up coordinating posts and had distributed supplies to flood victims with the help of the Social Affairs Agency.

The Indonesian Red Cross’ local chapter also helped to distribute food and set up a soup kitchen and medical post in East, West and South Jakarta.

Dien Emmawati, the City Health Agency chief, said that her office had set up 30 medical posts — each manned by at least four medical workers — in five municipalities in the past two days.

“Medical posts in evacuation areas are open for 24 hours, while in areas with no displaced persons we will remain open until 8 p.m.,” Dien said.

In Tangerang, the municipal administration began to distribute supplies to help flood victims at a number of flooded residential areas in Periuk, Jatiuwung, Batu Ceper, Pinang, Cipondoh, Ciledug, Karawaci and Karang Tengah.

Areas along the Ciliwung River were still on flood alert on Wednesday evening, as water levels in the upstream area remained high, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.

The water level at the Katulampa sluice gates in Bogor measured 180 centimeters on Wednesday afternoon, putting the level at its second highest, only beaten by the level recorded on Tuesday morning of 210 centimeters. Water from the upstream area takes between eight and nine hours to reach Jakarta.

The 210-centimeter upstream water level when it reached Manggarai sluice gates in South Jakarta on Tuesday night resulted in a water level of 910 centimeters. The level at Manggarai remained at 920 centimeters on Wednesday afternoon.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that the city police had formed task forces in every police precinct to assist citizens in flood-prone areas.

“The police have deployed a total of 30 officers to every police precinct and 90 officers at the Jakarta Police headquarters to assist flood victims. We have also prepared six inflatable boats and 14 rafts at the headquarters,” Rikwanto said. (nad/fzm)