The Face of Solidarity in Banjarmasin Floods
Banjarmasin is nicknamed "the City of a Thousand Rivers". The recent big floods in the capital of South Kalimantan province tested the solidarity of the people.
Banjarmasin is nicknamed "the City of a Thousand Rivers". The recent big floods in the capital of South Kalimantan province tested the solidarity of the people. All parties, including young people, were actively involved in evacuation measures and raising donations.
The floods began to be felt on Thursday (14/1/2021) when settlements of residents in eastern, northern and southern parts of Banjarmasin were submerged. The water level in the residential areas continued to rise as the rain lasted for several days.
In general, Banjarmasin residents had not expected the water to rise that high. They had expected that, like in previous floods, their residential areas would only be submerged briefly.
Also read: Elegy for early 2021: Upstream Landslides, Downstream Flooding
On the first day of the flood, the Banjarmasin city administration did not regard it as a disaster. While attending the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, during which he also was vaccinated, Banjarmasin Mayor Ibnu Sina said there was no flood in the city. "It\'s just a puddle and it will soon recede," he said.
Residents with children under five and the elderly began to evacuate because water had entered their houses.
The next day, instead of receding, the puddle became bigger. In the residential areas, the water level reached 40 centimeters. People were in panic. Residents with children under five and the elderly began to evacuate because water had entered their houses.
It was only on Friday (15/1) that the Banjarmasin city government declared the flood a disaster. The decision was made a day after the South Kalimantan provincial government announced an emergency status following floods in 11 districts / cities of the province. Only two districts escaped the floods, namely Tanah Bumbu and Kotabaru.
The Banjarmasin city government recorded 152 flooded locations, namely 107 in East Banjarmasin, 28 in North Banjarmasin and 17 in South Banjarmasin. Only West Banjarmasin and Central Banjarmasin were not affected. A total of 31,357 families or 101,601 people were affected, about 14 percent of the city\'s population.
Dewi Triyani Daus (24), a resident of East Banjarmasin, had not expected that the water would continue to rise. Until Saturday (16/1), the third day of flooding, she was trapped in her house because the residential area where she lived was inundated. "The water did not enter the house, but the road in front of the house in the residential area was inundated. I could not go out on a motorcycle anymore,” she said on Tuesday (2/2).
After three days at home, Dewi ran out of food. She could not go shopping at the market. The stalls near the house were all closed because they’d run out of stock. It was also difficult for her to reach the nearest main road, which was about 2 kilometers away. "I contacted my nephew in Rawasari (Central Banjarmasin), saying that I was already surrounded by floods and couldn\'t get out. For two days, I only ate instant noodles, no more rice, "she said.
Knowing that his aunt was in such a state, Reza Rahman (21) immediately told his colleagues in the WhatsApp group of the city fire department. There was an immediate response and they prepared assistance.
Two hours after the communication between Dewi and her nephew, help arrived. At 10 in the evening, members of the fire department from Swasta Pribumi 01 Teluk Tiram, West Banjarmasin, brought in aid by rubber boat.
"We collected the assistance from residents and donors,” said Abdul Kadir Jaelani, the chairman of the fire department, when handing over the rice, instant noodles, bread, drinking water, medicines and clothes. It was the first aid delivery since the complex was flooded.
Also read: South Kalimantan Flood a Gloomy Picture of Natural Destruction
The next day, Dewi and other women in the housing complex prepared 60 packages of aid for about 55 families who were unable to leave their houses. The aid was distributed by their husbands.
In the following days, assistance flowed in from various parties, including free medical services. Most of the assistance came from nongovernment organizations.
Ahmad Muliadi (20) of the Semanda Youth Association, East Banjarmasin, said they began raising donations for flood victims in Banjarmasin City through social media on the third day of the flood.
"In two days, we raised around Rp 3 million. We used the donations to buy medicines and necessities for infants and toddlers,” he said.
The medicines and goods for babies and children under five, such as diapers and formula milk, were then distributed to evacuation posts and residential areas hit by the floods.
"If you need medicine, just let me know, we\'ll prepare it," said Muliadi when handing over the aid.
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Muliadi and his friends had also helped evacuate residents, especially the elderly. They made a raft out of jerry cans.
"We young people must take part in helping the people, because we were also the victims of the floods. In my house, the water was knee-deep,” he said.
The extreme rainfall that preceded the flood masked the reality of the damage to the water catchment areas in upstream regions of the Martapura River, which flows to Banjarmasin, along with the Barito River.
The local government said such as big flood in South Kalimantan only happed once in a century. The previous large flood occurred in 1928. The extreme rainfall that preceded the flood masked the reality of the damage to the water catchment areas in upstream regions of the Martapura River, which flows to Banjarmasin, along with the Barito River.
In the upstream hills, environmental damage reducing the carrying capacity has been going on since the colonial era and peaked with logging activities in the 1980s, followed by the opening of coal mining sites in the 2000s. In addition, settlements sprung up on the banks of the river and have expanded until now.
Also read: Landslide Suspected of Triggering Flash Floods
Due to these conditions, according to a number of environmentalists, the water flowed quickly into the river because the soil was no longer able to absorb it. The water then flowed swiftly downstream to Banjarmasin City.
Two weeks have passed, but not all Banjarmasin residents are free from the floods. In the midst of people’s growing solidarity, it\'s time for the city to rebuild, but it should remain friendly to the environment.
This article was translated by Hendarsyah Tarmizi).