Indonesia: New Year’s Day Flooding Across Java

Dessy Sagita & Hangga Brata Jakarta Globe 3 Jan 12;

At least 10 areas across Java were flooded as the country welcomed what is expected to be a wet and miserable January as the rainy season reaches its peak.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said swaths of four provinces had been flooded since late on Sunday and through most of Monday.

He said Solo, Bungo, Sragen, Klaten and Brebes in Central Java, East Java’s Nganjuk and Pasuruan, Yogyakarta’s Yogyakarta city and Sleman and West Java’s Banjar had all been affected.

“January is the height of the rainy season for most of Indonesia, so the threat of flooding will increase,” he said.

Heavy rains in Solo caused the Bengawan Solo River to burst its banks, flooding much of the city.

“The water entered our house so quickly I had to evacuate my family, bringing only the bare essentials,” said Wardiman, who lives on the banks of the river. “It was raining hard [on Sunday] and we were unprepared.”

Sumarni, another Solo resident, said people were wary every time they saw dark clouds, fearing more flooding could be on the way.

Authorities in Solo estimated at least 2,500 people were affected by Sunday’s flooding.

Neighboring Sukoharjo city was also flooded, with some 4,400 people being forced from their homes.

Several of the rivers that cross through the city of Sragen also overflowed, cutting off the main road linking Solo and Surabaya, the capital of East Java, with some areas under a meter of water.

Heavy rains in Sleman caused the Code River to overflow, flooding parts of Yogyakarta city.

Rains on Mount Merapi, which erupted in 2010, killing more than 300 people, sent torrents of volcanic mud into the river, causing damage to homes in Klaten.

The heavy rains overwhelmed dams containing the Ciapit, Bancang and Kabuyutan rivers, flooding a number of homes in Brebes district.

In Pasuruan, at least 2,600 homes in eight villages were inundated after heavy rains that started at about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and lasted through Monday morning pounded the area.

Antara, the state-run news agency, reported that flooding also occurred in Banyumas, Central Java. The Serayu River overflowed and inundated hundreds of hectares of farmland in the district, with some areas under a meter of water. Sarwito, a Banyumas resident, said that the water began to rise on Sunday evening and started to breach the dikes early on Monday.

Antara also reported that heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in East Java’s Jember district. “At least 10 houses were heavily damaged in the landslides. Four bridges were damaged. One that linked Jalinan village and Sumberlanas village was completely destroyed,” the news agency quoted Eko Heru Sunarso, head of Silo subdistrict, one of the worst affected areas in Jember, as saying.

Floods were also reported in the West Malaka subdistrict of Belu, in East Nusa Tenggara, a few hour’s drive from the East Timor border. The head of the subdistrict, Anselmus Nahak, told Antara on Monday that at least five villages there had been affected by flooding since Sunday, after a dam on the Benanain River burst following heavy rains. “We are still trying to control the overflow by getting villages to build dikes,” he said.

In South Sumatra, where for the last five days at least 11 villages in Musi Rawas district have been flooded, waters began to recede on Monday. “We are urging people living along the Rawas and Musi rivers to stay vigilant considering that the intensity of rains is still high,” said the head of the district’s social affairs office, Faisol.