Indonesia: Residents struggle with huge losses after floods, landslides

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post 22 Feb 16;

Lusi Andriyani, a resident of Koto Baru subdistrict in South Solok regency, West Sumatra, could not hide her sadness as she recounted how a recent flash flood had destroyed her rice crop in two separate locations.

On one side of the village, floods left a meter of mud covering a hectare of her fields, and destroyed two-month-old rice plants on the other side.

“We had expected to harvest the rice in May to pay the expenses for our haj pilgrimage this year,” Lusi said on Sunday.

“But it seems that God has another plan for us.”

A series of floods and landslides triggered by heavy downpours hit 11 regions in West Sumatra on Feb. 7 and 8, killing nine people and damaging over 1,700 houses.

The floods also inundated 3,000 houses, 265 kiosks and dozens of school and government buildings, paralyzing activities in the affected regions.

Other regions were cut off after the disasters caused damage to roads in 56 places, as well as 45 bridges.

Other affected property included 4,888 hectares of rice fields, 599 hectares of plantations, 110 fish ponds and 42 irrigation facilities.

Given the scale of the damage, the provincial administration said last week that it would not be able to redress the impact without support from the central government.

Acting West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Zulfiatno said that according to provisional data, the losses caused by the disasters reached up to Rp 224.4 billion (US$16.6 million). The figure, however, could change at anytime as assessment was ongoing, he added.

“It is impossible for our regional or provincial budgets to cover such losses,” Zulfiatno said on Friday, adding that aid from the central government was urgently needed to help restore the affected regions.

Of the affected regions, South Solok is the worst-hit regency, with losses estimated to reach Rp 109 billion, followed by Limapuluh Kota regency with Rp 79.6 billion in losses and Pasaman regency with Rp 32.5 billion.

Emergency response activities are still ongoing in a number of badly hit regions, while aid is pouring into the province and heavy machinery is still working to restore riverbanks and clear sand from public facilities and people’s houses.

After a prolonged dry season, the rainy season finally arrived in many parts of the country in December and has since intensified.

A series of heavy downpours has subsequently triggered floods in several provinces, including Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Central Java.

In Riau, floods hit three regencies — Kampar, Rokan Hulu and Kuantan Singingi — earlier this month, forcing authorities in the three regencies to declare an emergency status.

In East Java, floods from the overflowing Kalikemuning River in Sampang submerged thousands of houses across the regency on Feb. 11, leaving at least one person dead.

The Sampang BPBD has described the floods as the regency’s most disastrous to date.

Meanwhile in North Sumatra, victims of a recent flood in Binjai municipality are appealing for aid.

The Binjai flood inundated five districts, namely Binjai Kota, East Binjai, West Binjai, North Binjai and South Binjai.

Apart from inundating hundreds of houses, the flood also submerged a number of public facilities including schools and places of worship.

One local man, Idris, 72, has been sheltering in a mosque with his wife since floods swept away his house three months ago.

“No aid has been forthcoming so far, not even from the local administration,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do. I want to rebuild my house and live a normal life like before, but I don’t know how.”

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