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Respite for the displaced

Respite for the displaced

Some residents crossed a river using an emergency bridge after a flash flood cut off a suspension bridge in Alat village, Hulu Sungai Tengah district, South Kalimantan, on January 20, 2021 ANTARA FOTO/Bayu Pratama S/wsj.

Fatimah, a resident of Kurau village in Kurau sub-district, Tanah Laut district, South Kalimantan, said she is reluctant to go back to her house, which has remained flooded for almost two months now.

"Until this time, my house remains inundated. At night, the floodwaters may reach knee height," she told ANTARA in Kurau village, located about 43 kilometers from Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan province, on Saturday.

Fearing more floods due to rain and tidal flooding, Fatimah said she prefers staying at her relative's house, which is located on higher ground.

However, she said she is thankful that conditions have improved compared to the second and third weeks of January, 2021, when floodwaters reached more than one meter in height.

Unlike Fatimah, Dian Rifani, another villager, returned home just three days ago after taking refuge for almost one month after the January floods.

"My house is often inundated if tidal flooding occurs, but it (the water level) is below knee-high," she observed.

Fatimah and Dian Rifani's fate is shared by many of their neighbors and many other residents of South Kalimantan, where massive floods submerged several areas on January 12-13 following heavy rainfall.

The floods affected the districts of Banjar, Tapin, Tabalong, Balangan, and Hulu Sungai Tengah as well as the cities of Tanah Laut and Banjar Baru.

The floods hit Banjar district the hardest, submerging 14,791 homes and compelling 51,362 people to take refuge.

The floods reportedly inundated 112 homes in Tapin district and forced 1,777 people to move to higher ground.

The massive floods also triggered landslides in Tanah Laut district, which led to five deaths, according to Tanah Laut district head Sukamta.

Kurau village head Anang Kaderi said the village is located about three kilometers away from the Java sea coast. Thus, if heavy rainfall and tidal flooding occur, the village is prone to flooding, he said, adding that the recent floods affected 706 households, or 2,333 residents, and 650 homes.

A majority of locals work as farmers and fishermen but, due to the ongoing threat of fresh flooding, they will have to remain alert, he said.

As they recover from the aftermath of January's flooding, the residents still need aid as many of them cannot yet get back to work to earn money, Kaderi said.

Aware of the reality of locals' life in Kurau, the Indonesian Rectors Forum (FRI) on Saturday distributed Rp70 million in cash and 200 humanitarian aid packages to those in need in the sub-district.

The cash aid and humanitarian assistance packages, comprising blankets, stationery items, five kilograms (kg) of rice, a liter of cooking oil, and a kg of sugar, were delivered by the forum's advisory council member, Sutarto Hadi, during a visit to Kurau sub-district.

The cash aid and relief packages, collected from a recent fund-raising program initiated by FRI vice head HM Nasrullah Yusuf, were symbolically received by secretary of the Tanah Laut District Administration, Dahnial Kifli.

Along with several students of the University of Lambung Mangkurat (ULM), including those from the Student Executive Board (BEM), Hadi, who is also the ULM rector, visited Kurau sub-district to hand out the humanitarian aid packages.

The ULM's disaster response team had earlier visited the districts of Banjar, Barito Kuala, and Hulu Sungai Tengah to distribute relief aid packages to those affected severely by the recent flash floods, Hadi informed.

On behalf of the South Kalimantan communities, Hadi expressed gratitude to the donors who participated in the FRI and ULM fundraising and charity programs for flood victims.

Related news: Massive flooding in South Kalimantan broke five-decade record: Jokowi

In the first two months of 2021, several hydrological disasters have occurred in the islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi.

In Java Island, for instance, flash floods inundated some parts of Semarang in Central Java after torrential rains lashed the city last week.

Residents of several areas in Subang district, West Java province, also experienced flooding. The government has taken steps to ensure those affected by the natural hazards are not left in limbo.

On Saturday, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin handed out President Joko Widodo's humanitarian aid packages for flood victims in Subang district, West Java.

The aid packages comprised 1,500 staple food packages, 200 house cleaning tools, one thousand rapid testing kits, 300 thousand face masks, five thousand cleaning gloves, and one thousand mattresses.

In the company of West Java Deputy Governor Uu Ruzhanul Ulum and Subang district head Ruhimat, Ma'ruf Amin symbolically delivered the aid packages to two flood victims at an event held at the Pamanukan sub-district office.

Amin also expressed the government's concern over flash floods inundating various parts of Indonesia, including Subang district, over the past two months.

"Our country is prone to natural disasters. The United Nations and World Bank have also placed Indonesia on the list of countries that are most at risk of natural hazards in the world," he stated.

To address this challenging reality, disaster emergency response, recovery, and reconstruction efforts cannot solely be conducted by government agencies, he said.

The government cannot singlehandedly mitigate the impact of such catastrophes, he added.

Therefore, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should also contribute to disaster mitigation, recovery, and reconstruction efforts, he remarked.

"Collaborative endeavors are so indispensable to make rehabilitation and reconstruction processes in disaster zones successful," Vice President Amin stated. (INE)

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