"The BMKG has forecast that the bad weather will continue till March, hence, the heads of regional governments should stay on alert," the President remarked during a visit to a command post for flood victims in Karawang, West Java, here on Tuesday.
The President stated that he had received flood updates from several regions. He also instructed the heads of regional governments in the affected regions to handle the flood problem on a priority basis.
"I called Jokowi (Jakarta governor), Ahmad Heryawan (West Java governor), the governors of North Sumatra and South Sulawesi. Today, I have also coordinated with the government leaders in Jambi, Benkulu, Central Java, and Maluku. I have urged them to promptly use logistics sources and other local resources," the President claimed.
According to the President, the country is currently facing natural disasters, particularly floods. In this regard, his side had coordinated with the governors of the flood-hit provinces.
He hoped that the relief and rescue operations in the various parts of the country are handled efficiently by the heads of the regional governments in their respective regions. If the regional budget does not suffice for flood mitigation efforts, they can request for financial assistance from the central government.
"The central government will offer assistance if requested. Once the floods have receded, we will review all the steps, which have been taken on the basis of requests from the district heads and governors," the President noted.
On the occasion, President Yudhoyono, flanked by First Lady Any Yudhoyono, was informed by the Karawang District Head Ade Swara that 28 out of the 30 subdistricts in Karawang had been affected by floods.
"On January 9, landslides and whirlwinds also affected 10 villages and more than one thousand homes. During the heavy rains, Karawang was inundated when the water overflowed the banks of the Citarum, Cilamaya, and Cibeet rivers. We are highly concerned about the current situation in 173 villages spread over 28 to 30 flood-hit subdistricts," Ade explained.
During the inspection, President Yudhyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono took time to meet the evacuees and examined the on-site facilities. He also extended aid supplies to the evacuees.
The Karawang district administration has declared a state of emergency following floods that affected 25 subdistricts in the past few days.
"The state of emergency in Karawang will last for 14 days, effective January 19," Karawang District Head H. Ade Swara noted in a press statement released on Tuesday.
He expressed hope that the district disaster coordination unit (Satkorlak) personnel will remain on standby after the district had been placed under a state of emergency.
The Satkorlak command post in Karawang is operated from the social service and disaster mitigation office and is operational around the clock.
Tens of thousands of houses in 146 villages in Karawang have been flooded over the past few days after a number of rivers overflowed their banks due to heavy rainfall.
On Monday, Head of Karawang Social Affairs and Disaster Mitigation Office Rochuyun A. Santosa stated that the floods had become an overwhelming disaster as 25 out of the 30 subdistricts in Karawang had been inundated.
The torrential rains have continued to pound several villages for the past few days, thereby causing some major rivers to overflow their banks.
"The rivers are Citarum, Cibeet, and Cilamaya. Some medium-sized rivers also overflowed and caused flooding," Rochuyun pointed out.
Water, ranging between 50cm to two meters in height, inundated thousands of houses. Thousands of hectares of paddy fields were also flooded.
Ade Swara reported that the district government had sent relief aid to all the flood-hit villages.(*)