South Sulawesi hit by worst flooding in last decade

Jakarta (ANTARA News)- The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of possible flooding as the country is currently in the peak rainy season, but the devastation caused by widespread flooding and landslides hitting South Sulawesi has shocked the nation.

Flash floods believed to be the worst in the last decade affected 106 villages in 61 sub-districts in 13 districts and cities in South Sulawesi Province. The 13 districts and cities were Jeneponto, Maros, Gowa, Makassar, Soppeng, Wajo, Barru, Pangkep, Sidrap, Bantaeng, Takalar, Selayar and Sinjai.

So far, 59 were dead, 25 missing, 47 injured and 6.596 displaced due to flooding and landslides in the province. Besides, the natural disasters damaged 10 bridges, 79 homes, two traditional markets, 12 places of worship, 22 school buildings, and submerged 4,857 homes, as well as 11,876 hectares of rice fields.

Jihadul Arifin, one of the Makassar flood victims, recalled how the flash flood took him and the other residents of Antang residential area in Manggala Sub-district by surprise as flood waters reaching a height of 1.5 meters suddenly hit the housing complex.

“This flood is different from floods in the previous years. The flood waters were suddenly very high,” Jihadul Arifin, an inhabitant of Antang housing complex, said on January 23, 2019.

The water current was very strong and it reached the height of an adults chest, he added.

The flash flood came from Gowa District, which shares a border with Manggala Sub-district, after the Bili-Bili dam was opened, he noted.

He said him and other flood victims did not have time to save their belongings because the flash flood came without any warning on January 22 at around 4 p.m. local time.

“Other residents and I are now taking refuge at a mosque. We need food, clothes and blankets,” he said.

On the previous day, parts of Makassar City were also flooded following incessant heavy rain from January 21 to 22.

The local authorities distributed relief aid and helped evacuate the flood victims, Taufiek Rahman, head of the Makassar disaster mitigation office (BPBD), stated.

The local BPBD deployed nine rubber boats to assist in the evacuation process, particularly in the Kodam III and Antang Blok 10 residential areas.

Mayor of Makassar Moh Ramdhan Pomanto urged Makassar residents to remain vigilant during the current extreme weather that hit the city. He appealed to residents to stay indoors if they did not have urgent matters to tend to outdoors.

Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agencys (BNPB) Data and Information Center and Public Relations Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press statement released on January 25, 2019, that flood waters began to recede in several parts of the districts.

“The joint SAR team continued to evacuate residents and search and rescue victims,” he said.

Relief aid from several agencies continued to pour in, including from the BNPB, the military, police and national Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Social Service Ministry, and the Health Ministry.

The Social Affairs Ministry has channeled emergency aid worth more than Rp1.42 billion to South Sulawesi.

To feed the displaced people, the Social Affairs Ministry set up eight public kitchens in Makassar, Gowa, Takalar, Jeneponto, and Maros Districts.

“The public kitchens are managed by volunteers of the emergency response unit Tagana. Each of the kitchens produces three thousand plates of food a day,” the ministrys Director General of Social Protection and Security, Harry Hikmat, noted.

In helping the people affected by the floods and landslides, the ministry had distributed 1,400 packs of food, 15 thousand packs of instant noodles, a family multi-purpose tent, 300 tents, roll-windows camping tents, 50 beds, and 100 mattresses.

According to Social Affairs Minister Gumiwang Kartasasmita, the ministry also distributed several other goods, including 200 blankets and 100 packs of clothes, and dispatched 450 Tagana personnel to conduct joint rescue operations.

Currently, Indonesia is experiencing the peak of the rainy season, so the meteorology agency has warned of possible hydrometeorological disasters such as floods, landslides and whirlwinds.

Mulyono Rahadi Prabowo, the BMKGs deputy in charge of meteorology, noted in a statement on January 17, 2019 that the condition in the Indian Ocean and the direction of wind indicated possible heavy rains, lightening, thunder, and strong wind, he remarked.

Last year, during the January-mid December period, a total of 2,427 natural disasters hit the country, leaving at least 4,821 people dead or missing, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

Of the total, 2,350 or 96.9 percent of the natural disasters were hydrometeorological disasters such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds, while 76 or 3.1 percent were geological disasters.

Source: ANTARA News