Floods Inundate Bekasi Regency for a Week
Heavy rainfall and poor drainage systems have caused flooding in Bekasi regency. This week’s floods affected more than 100,000 people and disrupted a variety of public activities.
BEKASI, KOMPAS – High-intensity rainfall has caused flooding in Bekasi regency, West Java, and in Kudus regency, Central Java.
In Bekasi, several tributaries of the Citarum River overflowed in the past week. As a result, more than 100,000 residents were affected as settlements, rice fields and schools were inundated.
Ani (50), a resident of neighborhood unit (RT) 001, community unit (RW) 004, in Sukajadi village, Sukakarya district, Bekasi regency, has decided to stay at her house, even though it had been damaged by the floods. Ani, who has lived in the house since 2000, is staying in a tent erected out front.
“At night, we sleep at a relative’s and return here in the afternoon,” said the mother of four.
Her house is located around 50 meters from the Ciherang River, part of the Citarum watershed, and is still submerged in floodwaters reaching 80 centimeters high. A rear wall has collapsed after a week of flooding.
Ani and her husband, who farms rice fields nearby, have been unable to work for the past week, as the fields are also flooded. “My house is damaged. As of today [Thursday], we received three packets of instant noodles from the village administration,” she said.
Floodwaters 30 cm high have inundated settlements and a residential complex in Sukajadi village. The local people say this is the worst flood to hit the residential complex, which has been inundated by floodwaters 1 meter high since Feb. 27.
Gumin (60), a resident of RT 001/RW 001 in Sukajadi village, said the flooding was caused by overflow from the Ciherang River. Having lived there since the 1980s, Gumin said the area began to experience regular flooding in 2007, usually every two to three years. However, floodwaters generally did not enter homes.
My house is damaged. As of today [Thursday], we received three packets of instant noodles from the village administration.
“Usually, there are only puddles. The rain would stop and after an hour or two, [the water] would recede. This time, it has been a week and [the water] remains,” he said.
According to data from the Bekasi Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), a total of 101,568 residents have affected by the flood and 4,112 people have evacuated as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday (1/3/2023).
Flooding was reported in 19 out of 23 subdistricts in Bekasi regency. Apart from the floods, the region was also hit by nine tornadoes and three landslides. The disasters left three people dead and one injured.
The floods in Bekasi regency also affected students. According to data from the Bekasi district administration, 65 elementary schools and 5 junior high schools in a number of subdistricts were submerged.
“The floods caused this inevitable condition, but we already have experience with online learning. So, we will make the most of online learning,” Bekasi District Education Agency head Carwinda said on Thursday afternoon (2/3).
Satellite imagery showed that 6,000 hectares (ha) of rice fields in the district were also submerged.
Acting Bekasi regent Dani Ramdan said that as of Thursday evening, floodwaters had begun to recede in several areas, or decreased at least 10 percent from the flooding that occurred on Wednesday. While some areas reported receding waters, however, other areas were flooded again.
“There are areas where the water continues to rise. This is due to the direction of the river towards the Java Sea on the northern coast, such as in Babelan, Pebayuran and Muara Gembong,” said Dani.
The floods in Bekasi were caused by not only heavy rain, but also disconnected drainage systems. Drainage from settlements, tributaries and rivers either had not been integrated from the upstream to the downstream or had been disconnected.
Another issue is that new housing developers have not fully complied with development permit requirements to set the minimum height of flooring based on the building’s location. The Bekasi regency administration has summoned these developers and asked them to immediately comply with the requirements.
According to Dani, the scale of flooding in Bekasi regency this year will not be as serious as it was three years ago in 2020. Floods this year were sporadic and due to the tributaries of the Citarum River. However, the disruption of activities over the past week has resulted in heavy losses that have not yet been calculated.
“It was more serious in 2020 because a 50-meter embankment at Pebayuran broke, which was also from Citarum [River]. This year, the Citarum River itself is under control,” he said.
According to Kompas’ records from 2020, more than 80 percent of Bekasi regency experienced flooding. The disaster impacted 10,000 families. The floods in 2020 also caused severe damage to bridges and roads, which required a budget of Rp 1.5 billion to repair (Kompas, 2/3/2020).
The Kudus BPBD reported that the regency continued to experience widespread flooding due to prolonged rainfall over the last two weeks. Six rivers had overflowed, including the Juana, Baiknah, Jumirah, Piji and Dawe rivers. Three of the regency’s four districts were reportedly submerged.
As of Thursday, 15,452 residents have been affected and 2,216 ha of local rice fields have been inundated.
Sugeng Hartono, who operates the Wilalung Floodgate in Kudus, Central Java, said there was only a 380 cm gap between the river and the Wilalung Floodgate at 8 a.m. on Thursday. However, the gap had narrowed to 323 cm by 11 a.m., meaning that the water level was continuing to rise.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin said the impact and losses from the disasters urgently called for a comprehensive disaster resilience framework supported by state institutions and a variety of financing schemes. (Z04)
This article was translated by Kesya Adhalia.