Indonesia: Floods spread, hundreds flee

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Yuli Tri Suwarni , The Jakarta Post , Bandung

Heavy downpours have spread the flooded areas in South Bandung to the western region of Rancaekek after previously inundating thousands of houses in Majalaya and Baleendah districts since Thursday.

Dedi Herman, 34, of Linggar, Rancaekek, said flooding had affected hundreds of houses in his neighborhood since Saturday afternoon, following a heavy downpour, reaching its peak at about 10 p.m., forcing residents to flee to higher ground.

Dedi added the flood, which was about 50 centimeters deep, subsided at about 8 a.m. the following morning but residents kept themselves on alert as the rain started to pour again on Monday afternoon.

"We just wanted to be cautious as the heavy rain fell almost evenly across all regions," said Dedi, who decided to take refuge at a relative's house with his wife and two kids in a nearby village, while others took shelter at a number of public buildings in the region.

Dadang Hermawan, staffer at Rancaekek district administration, said the floods inundated hundreds of houses in the three subdistricts of Bojongloa, Linggar and Haurpugur as two of Citarum River's tributaries of Cikeruh and Cikijing overflowed.

"The Citarum River was too full to accommodate the streams from its tributaries, in some places the streams were reversed, inundating houses," Dadang told The Jakarta Post, Monday.

Dadang said he could not yet tell the exact number of the houses affected as the flood was still isolating the three subdistricts.

Separately in Cieunteung, Baleendah, South Bandung, some 200 residents are still staying at a refugee camp a kilometer from their homes, which were inundated by the floodwaters of between 30 centimeters and 1.5 meters deep.

Others whose houses had a second story preferred to wait out the deluge at home. Their area has been inundated by floods over 30 times since October 2008. Their biggest complaint was the lack of food supplies, as the local administration had not yet provided them with any.

"It's difficult to expect such aid this time," survivor Lilis Aminah, 32, of Cieunteung, Baleendah, said.

Head of Baleendah district Rully Hardiana said at least 550 houses and about 1,500 residents in Cieunteung were inundated by flooding but only 47 families or 201 people sought refuge, mostly because their houses had only one level.

He said flood mitigation efforts had been made, including the building of a 401 meter embankment along the banks of the Citarum River, which was mostly funded by locals with the help of local businesspeople.

Unfortunately the embankment was unable to halt the stream from the West Java's biggest river from overflowing and Cieunteung, which is geographically lower than the river, was again inundated.