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Jakarta victims anxious about prediction of another flooding
Publication Date : 27-01-2013
Tuti sat on the ground in front of a bank office in Pluit, North Jakarta, on Saturday, while eating a box of rice with gusto. Her eight-month-old baby boy, who was running a fever, laid limply on her lap.
The 27-year-old mother’s face was soaked in sweat as she tried to catch her breath, feeling exhausted after queuing under the scorching sun and scrambling for aid provided for flood victims by an NGO at a nearby post.
“I’ve collected food from one post to another today. I might seem shameless but I don’t care,” said the Muara Baru resident, while pointing at a plastic bag filled with a dozen packages of rice wrapped in a sheet of paper next to her.
“We were starving as we received only two packs of instant noodles and a bottle of mineral water for the whole family, and my children now have colds,” said the mother of two.
But Tuti said she still could not regroup as a rumour about the possibility of major flooding hitting Jakarta on Sunday had terrified her family.
“The flood came so fast last time that we had no time to evacuate. A rubber boat from the search and rescue team came to our house but I was afraid to board because I had a baby with me. If a big flood occurs tomorrow, I could only surrender to God,” said Tuti in her yellow pyjamas.
Another evacuee shared the same fear.
“We are still cleaning our house from mud, but they said a big flood would come [Sunday],” Aliyah, 60, said in Pluit.
“When the flood came last week, I had to wade through water that reached up to my neck while pushing a floating tire with my 5-year-old grandchild on it. I don’t know what to do with my little grandchildren if the prediction comes true,” the grandmother of three said, trembling.
Pluit is one of the four North Jakarta subdistricts that was badly hit in last week’s floods, while most parts of Jakarta are already dry. The three other severely affected subdistricts are Penjaringan, Kapuk Muara and Ancol.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded a significant drop in the number of evacuees from over 45,000 earlier this week to around 3,900 on Sunday, and estimated the flood had caused total losses of more than 4.3 trillion rupiah (US$447.2 million).
Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared a state of emergency would be in effect from January 17 to 27 (Sunday) after devastating floodwaters swamped the capital.
Following Jokowi’s announcement, University of Indonesia (UI) hydrology expert Firdaus Ali predicted that tides would rise due to gravitational forces exerted by the moon, the sun and the rotation of the earth, and rainfall would continue to increase until January 27, leading to flooding that would surpass levels seen 2007 that killed more than 80 people and displaced 200,000.
By that time, he said, rainwater and upstream flows would flood all parts of Jakarta as excess river water would not be able drain off into the sea. Northern Jakarta was likely be the most affected, according to his prediction.
BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho dismissed the prediction, saying “only a high and continuous intensity of rain would cause a flood as bad as February 2007, while the rainfall on the dates in question will likely be at a medium level”.
The Jakarta administration has urged citizens not to panic but still stay on alert, saying that workers from related agencies, police officers and army personnel would be on duty at available posts.