Jakarta returns to normal life after widepsread floods

Thursday, 24 January 2013 | 1259

With no rain over the weekend, the sun even starting to peek out behind the clouds, and the night sky over Jakarta even showing a bright moon, Jakartans heaved a sigh of relief having passed three days of almost non-stop heavy torrential rains with strong winds from Wednesday on through Friday  night last week.


By  Monday, most of Jakarta was thankfully dry, as major arterial roads were cleaned from mud and became passable on Tuesday. Jakarta’s traffic and economic life had returned to normalcy, with the exception of the Pluit area in north Jakarta, where rising seawater and a full polder had halted the outflow of rivers. 


Thursday and Friday on the 17th and 18th January, the capital city was flooded and almost came to a standstill when rapid currents thundered down from the mountains through the 13 rivers that cut through Jakarta. At the same time 3 days and nights of incessant tropical rains over the city itself poured waters from above, flooding this metropolitan city, which was then exacerbated by the rising tide.


As Jakarta’s drains could no longer hold the volume of water, the sloshing floods overflowed into housing and onto arterial roads.


And when the strong river currents from the mountains hit the Manggarai watergate that directs water to the Western Flood Canal, the dam broke, causing widespread floods over Jakarta’s main avenues, even hitting the Presidential Palace, normally safe from rising waters.


For two days, people waded through waist-high waters, evacuation was done by rafts and even military amphibious transport. Motorbikes were carried on carts, where the usual poor cart owners could reap some good earnings for a couple of days.  


For almost two days, Jakarta’s life came to a standstill. But, thankfully through the development of suburbs that come complete with supermarkets, hospitals, hotels ,restaurants and schools, those living in higher-lying areas that are not affected by floods could continue life as normal, although many schools were closed and offices inaccessible by car or public transport.


During these heavy floods, 10 people were reported killed and some 40,000 people evacuated. Two victims were found drowned in the basement of a highrise building on the Sudirman avenue. 


Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo  - or more familiarly known as Jokowi - and Indonesian President Yudhoyono surveyed the inundated areas including the Manggari dam.  Governor Jokowi immediately ordered the dam repaired, and with the help of the military and the Ministry of Public Works, the dam was restored by the weekend.


After a coordinating meeting of involved agencies, President Yudhoyono announced that a longer term solution was decided to build a canal from the Ciliwung river to the Eastern Flood Canal, to divert flood waters to the sea.


Meanwhile, the Indonesian weather agency, BMKG, warned that another cyclone in the Indian Ocean had again been detected, which will pull a cold surge from Siberia. The meeting of tropical heat with extremely  cold  temperatures will cause high waves and dark clouds over much of southern Java to the Timor Sea, causing rain over central and south Sumatra, southern and east Java, North Sulawesi, and West Papua.  Moreover, with the coming full moon, this will cause higher tides. Therefore, Jakarta should expect more rains in the coming days.


For this reason, Jakarta Governor has decided that Jakarta remains on top alert for floods until the 27 January 2013.   


(Sources:  tvone, kompas daily)


Photo courtesy by www.voaindonesia.com

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