Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Flooding displaces 50,000 in Bandung

Source: The Jakarta Post

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

Two days of heavy rain forced over 50,000 residents in south Bandung to flee to safety on Monday as their houses were inundated by floodwaters up to three meters high.

The flood, thought to be the biggest in 10 years in south Bandung, occurred after the swollen Citarum river began overflowing its banks on Saturday, combined with heavy rain all weekend.

Two districts, Baleendah and Dayeuhkolot, were the hardest-hit, as the flood also swamped schools and major roads.

Bandung's main road, the Dayeuhkolot-Banjaran highway, has been impassable since Sunday evening, causing a huge traffic jam for people trying to come to Bandung via the route. Most chose to detour to the Soreang-Margahayu highway or through Cibaduyut.

Tono, a staff member at the Baleendah district administration office, estimated that around 2,900 houses in the district's four villages -- Andir, Baleendah, Rancamanyar and Bojong -- were affected. He added that 12,300 residents were displaced and had sought shelter elsewhere.

On Monday, hundreds of residents from Andir were reportedly holed up inside the Baleendah district office and other offices in Bandung regency.

"We're still having problems evacuating the refugees and in accommodating them due to the lack of tents. But today, we'll build a public kitchen," head of Baleendah district Tery Rusidan was quoted as saying by Antara on Monday.

He added that some residents were trapped on top of their roofs, so a rescue team had to pick them up using the limited number of available boats.

While inspecting the flooded areas on Monday, head of the education office at Baleendah district, Yayat Hendayana, estimated that over 2,600 students would be unable to attend school until the water subsided.

He said his staff had received many phone calls about the disaster. "Many ask us for help but we can't do much since many of the areas are hard to reach," Yayat was quoted by Antara as saying.

A teacher from SD Jati II elementary school, Yetty Nuryati, said her house was inundated by water two meters high.

"We can't eat anything because all of our food was washed away," Yetty exclaimed. "We also are having problems finding potable water."

Antara reported that two flood victims in Baleendah, Aji and Nani Herawati, were taken to Al Ihsan hospital for treatment. They nearly drowned and were suffering from severe shock and hypothermia.

According to the hospital's doctor, Tedi Rasmadi, Aji was suffering from hypothermia after he tried to get through the water to save some of his belongings at his house in the Cigado area.

"Since the water is two meters high and Aji cannot swim, he had problems," Dr. Tedi succinctly explained to the journalists.

The other victim, Nani, was taken to the hospital after suffering a seizure at a shelter near the Baleendah subdistrict office

In Dayeuhkolot district, the worst-hit areas were Dayeuhkolot, Citereup, Cangkuan Wetan and Pasawahan villages where the floodwater reached three meters high.

Head of information section at Dayeuhkolot district, Inen, estimated that around 20,000 families, or around 50,000 residents, had been affected by the floods.

"This is the worst flood in the last 10 years. Really bad," Inen told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Evacuation was difficult due to limited numbers of available rubber dinghies. On Monday, only five were available.

"We need at least 20 rubber boats," Inen implored. He revealed that the boats were essential for evacuating the victims since many were still trapped in or on their houses.

Head of Bandung's meteorology and geophysics agency, Hendri Subakti, concluded that there had been a lot of rain over the last three days.

"Since early February, the total amount of precipitation has reached 300 millimeters, while usually it's about 200 mm," he disclosed, while predicting that there would be more rain over the next two days.