Indonesia: Floods submerge hundreds of houses in Jambi, Aceh

Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post 7 Dec 15;

Torrential rains have poured down over many regions in Sumatra, causing floods and engulfing hundreds of houses in Jambi and Aceh.

Overnight heavy downpours in Sungai Penuh, Jambi, saw Batang Merao River overflow on Saturday, flooding the city’s two districts of Hamparan Rawang and Tanah Kampung.

In Hamparan Rawang district the flood affected Sri Menanti and Tanjung Bunga subdistricts while in Tanah Kampung it affected Tanjung subdistrict.

“We need the government to build an embankment for the river to prevent the water from overflowing into people’s houses,” Mahmud, a Tanjung resident, said on Sunday.

He also asked the government to provide emergency aid including food and a public kitchen for everyone affected as it was impossible to cook at their houses, which were 75 centimeters deep in floodwater.

“The government has to respond rapidly to prevent our kids from starving,” he said.

Meanwhile, Antara news agency reported that overflowing water from Woyla River had inundated at least nine subdistricts in East Woyla district, West Aceh regency, Aceh, on Friday.

West Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Saiful AB said in Meulaboh on Friday that affected residents had been evacuated.

“The flood comes from the regency up stream,” Saiful said.

Heavy rain over the mountainous region on Thursday afternoon was blamed for the flood in East Woyla. Floodwaters in homes rose to between 50 and 100 centimeters deep.

Water from the overflowing Kreung Mereubo River also started to inundate hectares of rice fields in Kaway XVI district, damaging new seedling areas that had been seeded just two days ago.

Farmer Abdul Manan of Pasir Jambu subdistrict, Kaway XVI, said that local farmers had just finished plowing their rice fields within the last few days, and some had started growing seedlings.

“I have just spread seeds for two days and now they are submerged in water,” Manan said.

The West Aceh regency administration has deployed heavy equipment to do emergency mending work on the Ulee Raket Bridge, both sides of which were eroded by floods that have now hit 12 districts in the region.

The regency has reportedly suffered hundreds of billions of rupiah in flood damage, to rice fields, crops, houses, infrastructure and public facilities.

The regency administration calculated that it would need another Rp 1 trillion, at least, to solve the flood issue by building five kilometers of security embankment along the river (DAS).

“We hope the central government will help us,” West Aceh Development Planning Board (Bappeda) head T. Ahmad Dadek said.

Separately, Pematangsiantar BPBD in North Sumatra has estimated that losses from its flood and landslide on Tuesday amounted to at least Rp 1.3 billion.

“The total losses are still being calculated,” the city BPBD head Daniel Siregar said.

Tuesday’s flood affected the districts of West Siantar, North Siantar Utara and Siantar Martoba, killing two and damaging 23 houses.

The agency’s prevention and awareness sub-division head Anugerah Zendrato said that rain intensity would remain high in the region until the beginning of January.

He called on subdistrict heads in the regency to promote the need to improve caution especially for those living in flood-prone areas along riverbanks and landslide-prone areas in hilly regions.

These areas, Anugerah said, included West Siantar, Siantar Marihat, South Siantar, Siantar Martoba, Siantar Sitalasari and North Siantar districts.