Sumatran flood victims call for logistical, medical assistance

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Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, Apriadi Gunawan and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Padang/Medan/Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Fri, February 12 2016, 3:08 PM

Thousands of people affected by floods and landslides in a number of regions of Sumatra are calling on the government to provide emergency logistics and medical aid as the disasters have paralyzed activities in many places.

In West Sumatra, more than 5,000 villagers in the Pangakalan Koto Baru district of Limapuluh are in need of food and clean water for the next several days as floods triggered by heavy rains have inundated two subdistricts in the regency since Monday.

With floodwater up to 2 meters submerging two subdistricts, Pangkalan Koto Baru is so far the worst-hit area by this week’s flooding in the regency, located some 150 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Padang.

District head Andri Yasmen said on Thursday that some residents were still busy cleaning their houses and neighborhood.

While the victims had all received emergency aid, Andri said current logistics supplies were insufficient for the next three days.

“Frankly speaking, we cannot handle this if there is no outside help coming in,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

Andri added that many residents had begun to suffer from itches as a result of being exposed to dirty water.

Separately, the head of West Sumatra’s Public Work Agency, Suprapto, said on Thursday that floods had damaged 1.2 kilometers of the national roads in the province, 3 km of the provincial roads, two steel-framed bridges and seven suspension bridges.

“We are now working to fix them,” he said.

In North Sumatra, heavy rains and strong winds have hit the municipalities of Medan and Binjai and the regency of Deli Serdang, forcing many locals to leave.

In Deli Serdang, floods have submerged dozens of houses in Sei Rotan subdistrict.

“Today we decided to look for a safe place because we are afraid our children will get sick as floodwater has inundated our house for three days and has not yet subsided,” said Lukman, a local resident.

The Binjai administration, meanwhile, has started to fix some bridges damaged by the floods.

“We will need three weeks at most to finish [the job],” said Nanang, the head of the municipal public work agency.

In Medan’s Maimon district, four houses on Jl. Mantri in Aur subdistrict were damaged by falling trees, which also injured a local resident.

Riau’s provincial administration, meanwhile, has declared an emergency status for floods and landslides considering the high rainfall potential and the expansion of floods that have so far claimed two lives.

“Apart from that, three regency administrations have already declared a flood emergency response status,” the head of the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Edward Sanger, said on Thursday.

Floods have hit three regencies of Riau: Kampar, Rokan Hulu and Kuantan Singingi. Leaders of the three regencies have declared an emergency response status, saying they were overwhelmed with anticipative measures.

Edward explained that by declaring an emergency response status, the provincial administration could arrange quicker regional budget disbursement for logistic supplies.

“The Riau BPBD has so far disbursed Rp 500 million [US$37,100] to help Kampar and Rokan Hulu regencies deal with the floods,” he said.