Indonesia: Residents brace for the worst as peak rainy season approaches

Apriadi Gunawan and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post 15 Feb 16;

Flood victims and residents in flood-prone regions will not be able to breathe a sigh of relief anytime soon, as authorities say this year’s rainy season will only pass its peak early next month.

In North Sumatra’s provincial capital of Medan, the local Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) is calling on residents to remain cautious of floods until the end of February, as strong rainfall is predicted for the next two weeks.

Medan BPBD head Hanna Lore Simanjuntak said on Sunday that her institution had informed all district and subdistrict heads in the municipality about the flood risk.

“We expect them to pass the information on to residents, so that they can prepare necessary anticipative measures,” she said.

Among the flood-prone areas in Medan are the districts of Medan Maimun, Medan Baru and Medan Petisah, all located in the southern part of the city. The BPBD, Hanna said, had prepared two rubber boats to help evacuate residents should floods hit these areas.

Meanwhile in West Sumatra, flooding in 10 regencies of the province last week affected more than 30,000 people. Most of the victims, especially those in the three worst-hit regencies of Limapuluh Kota, South Solok and Pasaman, have not yet received sufficient logistical and medical assistance.

West Sumatra BPBD emergency and logistic division head R. Pagar Negara said his office had asked the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to send a helicopter to distribute emergency aid to 300 affected families in South Mapat Tunggul district, Pasaman regency.

“Landslides have blocked the road leading to the region in 20 spots, making it impossible for us to send the aid overland,” he said.

In Indonesia, the rainy season normally starts in October and the dry season in April.

However, after a prolonged dry season triggered by the El NiƱo weather phenomenon, the rainy season finally arrived in many parts of the country in December and has since intensified, triggering floods and landslides in several provinces, including Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Central Java, over the past weeks.

Last week, BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains had hit 166 regions across the archipelago during the first five weeks of the year, claiming a total of 43 lives and affecting more than 75,000 people.

The delay to the start of the rainy season, Sutopo said, would make it reach its peak in February, a couple of months later than the normal schedule.

The head of the Indonesian Geologists Association’s (IAGI) West Sumatra branch, Ade Edward, attributed floods that recently hit nine regions in the province to geological factors.

“The problem lies with the lack of spatial planning in flood-prone areas; that such areas have been developed into residential or office compounds, which explains why floods affect more and more people here,” Ade said.

The affected regions, he added, had been recurrently hit by floods and flash floods. Some even experienced landslides.

He said floods struck at least once every two years in those regions, while major floods occurred once in five years.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment’s (Walhi) West Sumatra executive director, Uslaini, blamed environmental damage in a number of riverbank areas for the recent floods and landslides.

She urged the provincial administration to evaluate mining business licenses and apply moratoriums on new licenses to avoid further destruction in the areas.

“Otherwise, disasters will always hit West Sumatra,” she said.

Heavy Rains Pose Risk of Flooding in Jakarta and Surrounding Areas: BNPB
Shenny Fierdha Chumaira Jakarta Globe 15 Feb 16;

Jakarta. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has warned that there is an increased probability of flooding in Jakarta and surrounding areas towards the latter part of February, amid the peak of the rainy season.

"According to weather forecasts with regard to expected rainfall, it is highly likely that flooding may occur in Jakarta in the third to fourth week of February. The public is therefore reminded to remain alert at all times," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Sunday (14/02).

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) predicted that heavy rains would fall in Jakarta and its surrounding cities of Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi between Monday and Wednesday this week.

"From the dynamic development of atmospheric conditions, there are indications of potential heavy rainfall occurring over the next few days, particularly in the Greater Jakarta area," BMKG head Hary Tirto Djatmiko said in a statement on Sunday.

"We urge all [government] agencies and members of the community to remain alert of heavy rains that are expected from Monday afternoon, and which may increase by Tuesday morning. Similarly, on the next day [Wednesday], the potential for heavy rainfall of a similar intensity remains high," Hary said.

Meanwhile, Sutopo said the government and the Jakarta chapter of the BPBD have taken precautionary measures to anticipate flooding in the capital.

"The BNPB has prepared a quick-response emergency team equipped to be mobilized at any time," he said.

While Sunday's heavy rain, he said, did not cause any significant flooding in the capital, it did result in some roads being partially inundated.

He said the storm-water drainage systems in many parts of the city were not adequate to deal with a sudden downpour, causing many public roads to become inundated. However, for now, Jakarta has not yet experienced any major flooding, he said.

Jakarta-Cikampek Toll Road Traffic Back to Normal

Heavy rains that occurred in some areas surrounding Jakarta over the weekend have caused traffic chaos on the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road.

On Sunday night, traffic from Karawang, an industrial city to the east of the capital, was backed up over a distance of more than 16 kilometers when some sections of the toll road were up to 30 centimeter under water in some areas.

"Flood water spread from the Cibatu toll gate to the Deltamas toll gate in Cikarang, Bekasi," West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Pudjo Hartono explained on Sunday night.

Iwan Abrianto, a spokesman for Jasa Marga, the state toll road operator that operates the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road, said on Monday the situation was under control and that the toll road operator has been making join efforts with the state water management company and property developers near the toll road to improve water management and drainage.

With additional reporting by Mikael Niman, Suara Pembaruan

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