Saturday, May 19, 2007

For some, no respite as floods surge back

Monday, February 19, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While most flood victims have returned home, hundreds other have had to leave theirs again.

As of Sunday, 1,900 people from South Jakarta and 800 from West Jakarta were living in shelters, having fled flooding that submerged their houses Friday night.

Muhamad Salim, the secretary of a neighborhood unit in Petogogan, South Jakarta, said most residents had not had enough sleep since Jakarta's massive floods earlier this month.

"We've constantly been worried about the next flood ... every time we heard news of rain in Bogor or Depok, we packed our belongings because it usually takes five to six hours for the floodwater to reach us," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

There are about 280 houses in Muhamad's neighborhood, which is located on the side of the Krukut River.

A lack of sleep and tiredness from cleaning up the damage from the last flood meant residents were caught off guard at dawn Saturday, when they woke up to find out that up to a meter of water had inundated their homes overnight.

One resident, Yasin, said people had voluntarily erected seven makeshift kitchens in the neighborhood last week, but had already stopped using them because they had not expected another flood.

Aid was also hard to come by in the flood-prone area. "We heard that lots of people got money from the Saudi Arabian Embassy but we don't know why we didn't get our share," said Salim.

While residents still had some of the free medicine handed out by health workers last week, they were in need of rice and clean water.

"Many people still have some instant noodles from last week but we really need rice to cook since the price soared this week," Salim added.

The flooded areas were also in need of children's and babies' supplies.

Meanwhile, heavy rain in the city on Saturday evening caused water levels at the Manggarai, Karet and Pulogadung sluice gates to rise, triggering a level III alert.

Water gushed onto the street, causing traffic jams in 83 places along roads in East Jakarta, the city police Traffic Management Center reported.

The city administration reported a death toll of 48 from the recent floods, which affected 70 percent of the city as well as neighboring areas.

Some 300,000 people were also forced to flee their homes.(02)

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