Indonesia: Heavy rain, floods seen across Sumatra

Jon Afrizal and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 29 Jan 16;

Floods triggered by heavy downpours have continued to spread in Sumatra over the past few days, with the latest incidents isolating thousands of villagers in Jambi and affecting hundreds of others in Aceh.

In Merangin regency, Jambi, 1,200 residents of Tanjung Berugo subdistrict, Lembah Masurai district, were cut off early on Thursday after a flash flood from the overflowing Incin River swept away the only bridge connecting the village with surrounding areas.

The flood hit at 3 a.m. local time after a series of heavy downpours and immediately swept away the 20-meter bridge.

Local resident Abdullah said villagers therefore could not flee when the flash flood took place.

“I was shocked to see the bridge disappear after being hit by the flash flood,” Abdullah said on Thursday over the phone.

Meanwhile in Aceh, flooding has been seen across Aceh Besar following prolonged heavy rain in the regency’s mountainous areas.

The local administration recorded that the floods began on Tuesday evening. At least five villages in Seulimeum and Lembah Seulawah districts have so far been affected by the disaster, which has inundated hundreds of houses in the areas.

“Beureunuen village is so far one of the worst-hit areas, with flood waters reaching up to 2 meters,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday.

Sutopo said local disaster mitigation agencies had set up public kitchens and temporary shelters for affected residents.

In Riau, four villages in Kampar Kiri Hulu district, Kampar regency, which had been cut off since November because of floods and landslides, could finally be reached overland from the district capital.

“Although land transportation has yet to fully recover, at least access has reopened,” Riau Social Affairs Agency head Syafruddin said on Thursday.

Around 3,000 families in the villages struggled to survive for more than two months after the natural disasters cut transportation links.

Separately, Kampar Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Santoso said he had submitted a proposal to the BNPB to restore the damaged road and increase aid for residents in the four villages.

“We have reported the situation in the four villages and the BNPB has approved giving Rp 200 million [US$14,800] for the provision of foodstuffs and clearing the road buried by the landslide,” he said.

After a prolonged dry season, the rainy season finally arrived in many parts of the country last month.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned that several areas, including North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Jambi and South Sumatra, could be prone to flooding on account of heavy downpours.

Meanwhile, other regions, including Bengkulu, Aceh, southern parts of West Java, parts of Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara, were said to be prone to landslides.

Last month, more than a dozen villagers in Lebong Tandai, North Bengkulu, were killed when a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall hit their homes as they slept.

akartans warned about peak rainfall
Dewanti A. Wardhani, The Jakarta Post 29 Jan 16;

The Jakarta administration is preparing for the peak of the rainy season, which is expected to occur from Feb. 22 to 28, drawing up a contingency plan in readiness for any flooding.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) spokesman Harry Tirto said this year’s rainy season peak was slightly later than last year, which fell at the end of January. “The peak of the rainy season is usually from early January to mid February. However, this year will be slightly later due to the long El NiƱo,” Harry said by phone on Thursday.

He explained that the precipitation would also be slightly less compared with 2015. The precipitation in 2015 was 400 millimeters to 500 mm per month during the peak of the rainy season, while this year it is expected to be about 300 to 400 mm per month, a high precipitation level. The BMKG categorizes low rainfall intensity as between 0-100 mm per month, mid-level is between 101-300 mm and a very high level is above 401 mm.

“However, we should not let our guard down because the peak of the rainy season has yet to start,” Harry said.

According to data from the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) 34 subdistricts across the five municipalities are considered prone to flooding and need special attention. Those subdistricts were heavily flooded during the rainy seasons of the past three years.

“The peak of the rainy season is expected to begin on Feb. 22. Therefore, the 34 flood-prone subdistricts must participate in our contingency plan starting Feb. 12,” city secretary Saefullah said during a meeting with working units at City Hall on Thursday.

He said that he demanded full participation by relevant officials and staff, who are expected to delay taking leave until March 2016.

Saefullah said all subdistrict heads must begin preparing necessities for the peak of the rainy season. The seven necessities, he went on, were rescue facilities, health needs, logistics, locations for evacuation, facilities and infrastructure for evacuation, education and participation by residents.

Relevant working units, such as the BPBD, Social Agency, Health Agency and Education Agency must directly coordinate with subdistrict heads.

Saefullah explained that all subdistrict heads must report on the preparedness of their seven necessities to their district heads by 12 p.m. each day starting Feb. 12. The district heads must further report preparations in the subdistricts to municipal offices by 1 p.m.

“The reports must be submitted every day from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21. We expect all relevant officials who are directly responsible for any aspect of our plan to be present in their offices during the month of February and they may not participate in activities outside of Jakarta,” he said.

Separately, West Jakarta’s Duri Kosambi subdistrict head Irwansyah said that he had begun to list all flood-prone areas. “There are at least 12 areas in the Duri Kosambi subdistrict that are prone to flooding. The subdistrict is located near the Angke River, which often overflows. During heavy rains, flooding can reach up to 2 meters at worst,” Irwansyah told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting.

He went on to say that the subdistrict had been identifying clogged drains and channels and had dispatched contract workers to clear the waterways.

Irwansyah added that he had also gathered residents in his area to inform them of the city administration’s flooding contingencies.

“It’s important to inform the residents so that they can begin preparing as well,” he said.

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