Indonesia: Flood inundates hundreds of houses

News and Press Release
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Yuli Tri Suwarni ,The Jakarta Post , Bandung

After being traumatized by a landslide in Cianjur that killed 15 people last week, thousands of West Javanese must now face floodwaters engulfing their homes.

More than 1,500 residents in Cieunteung village, Baleendah, Bandung regency, 30 kilometers south of Bandung, have been affected by floods for the past two weeks after the Citarum River burst its banks because of flows in its upper catchment.

Cieunteung resident Yani Daliyani, 40, said three of her children had contracted diarrhea while she had developed a skin disease.

She was among the more than 100 residents waiting to receive free treatment from an ambulance sent by the Baleendah community health center Monday.

Most of them complained of diarrhea, cough, flu and skin diseases.

"Clean water is available, but we must line up to get a pail for each family," Yani, whose family could not drink water from their contaminated well, said on Monday.

Since 2005, annual floods have only lasted three days at the most, but this year it was lasting longer, Yani said.

She said the floods had occurred because Citarum River was silted up.

Another resident, Neneng Rina, 28, who is in her seventh month of pregnancy, said she had to spend more on food because she had to buy cooked food as floodwaters had inundated her kitchen.

More than 300 students at the SD 1 Mekarsari elementary school were dismissed because their school was engulfed by water.

Baleendah district chief Ruli Hadiana said such a situation had occurred seven times between January and November in Cieunteung, which lies along the Citarum River.

The local administration could only provide food rations and 5,000 liters of clean water daily.

The best solution was to relocate the villagers, but the cost would be too high, Ruli said.

"We have proposed to the government that they dredge and normalize the river's flow or build a retaining reservoir. We cannot do that because it is too costly and it concerns the regency and provincial administrations," Ruli said.

An elementary school was forced to close temporarily while illnesses have started to increase due to the lack of clean water. At least 405 homes have been submerged in water up to a meter high.

Since Nov. 13, flash floods have also inundated hundreds of homes in Majalaya, leaving thousands of homes covered in mud up to 30 cm high as of Friday, compared to a meter high the previous day.