Flash flood damages 123 homes in West Sumatra

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Padang | Fri, 02/24/2012 10:43 AM

No casualties have been reported after a flash flood swept through Simpang Alahanmati (Simpati) and Tigo Nagari in Pasaman, West Sumatra, on Wednesday evening.

Two hundred families have been evacuated while 123 homes were reported damaged by the flood, according to officials.

Simpang Alahanmati was the worst hit district.

A line of homes along a 500-meter stretch of road in Simpati were destroyed when a nearby river overflowed, bringing with it logs, tree branches and mud.

The flood was worsened by a landslide on Bukit Macang, home to a government conservation area. Debris from the landslide tumbled downhill like a river, according to witnesses.

A market was swept away, leaving behind piles of ruined wood. Two mosques and four musholla (small mosque) were also damaged.

“There were no casualties, as the flood took place at 5:20 p.m., followed by the landslide, thereby enabling local people to flee, Syarman Tabrani, a resident of Simpati district, said.

Syarman said that while his house escaped destruction, a rice mill and 15 bags of unhusked rice stored there were inundated.

He was seen to working with his wife, Yurnaini, to save their submerged paddy field and the mill.

“People here places their bags of unhusked rice here for milling. Now all the rice is submerged, but we’ll try to save them before drying them tomorrow,” Tabrani said.

The rice mill, belonging to Saharuddin, 56, was hit by the flood first as it was located in a hilly area on the embankment of the river, he said.

“Such happenings took place in 1980 and 2001, but the previous disasters were not as bad as now,” Saharuddin said.

“We suffered an estimated loss of nearly Rp 700 million [US$78,000] because more than 60 tons of unhusked rice entrusted to us were inundated,” Saharuddin’s nephew, Muhammad Zulkarni, 32, said.

“We haven’t cleaned up the mess as Pak Saharuddin is still in shock,” Zulkarni said.

Officials said that the flood also damaged 11 bridges, 3 kilometers of road and 120 hectares of rice fields.

Pasaman Regent Benny Utama said the administration declared a state of emergency for one week.

“We are badly in need of heavy machinery to clean up the mess,” Benny said