Tens of Thousands of Residents Displaced Due to Demak Floods, Embankment Repairs Accelerated
A total of 20,772 residents were displaced due to the Demak floods. Repairs to broken river embankments are being accelerated to deal with flooding.
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The following article was translated using both Microsoft Azure Open AI and Google Translation AI. The original article can be found in Puluhan Ribu Warga Mengungsi akibat Banjir Demak, Perbaikan Tanggul Dikebut
DEMAK, KOMPAS - More than 20,000 residents have been displaced due to the recent flooding in Demak Regency, Central Java. In an effort to mitigate the effects of the flood, the government is pushing for repairs to the river levees that have broken at dozens of locations, and deploying water pumps to drain the water from the affected areas.
Until Monday (12/2/2024), the flood that struck several areas in Demak has not completely receded. There are several villages in the Karanganyar and Gajah Subdistricts that are still submerged in water, with a height of up to 4 meters.
"More than 84,000 people have been affected by the floods in Demak. Of that number, 20,772 have been forced to evacuate to 59 shelter points," said Head of Emergency Response Division of the Central Java Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), Muhamad Chomsul, on Monday in Demak."
In addition to flooding settlements, the flood also cut off access to the Pantura Highway from Demak to Kudus Regency, Central Java, and vice versa. The route has been completely paralyzed due to flooding with a height of about 2 meters that has not yet receded. Based on observations, dozens of vehicles were trapped in the middle of the flood until Monday afternoon.
Floods in Demak also claimed lives. As of Monday, there were four fatalities. One person died after being swept away by flood waters after slipping from the second floor of their home, one person died after falling off a motorcycle at the flood site, one toddler died after falling into a flood puddle, and one person died after being electrocuted during the flood.
Nurkan (57), a resident of Ketanjung Village, Karanganyar District, stated that the flood that occurred this year was the most severe in his lifetime. According to him, floods regularly hit his area, at least once a year.
"If it's the yearly one, the water height is only up to 30 centimeters (cm). Meanwhile, if it's the big flood, it occurs once every ten years. (The water height) can reach up to 1 meter at most. But in this current flood, the water height reached up to 4 meters. The top of a two-story house is not even visible," he said.
Nurkan and approximately 400 other residents live around the Sungai Wulan embankment, which broke on Thursday (8/2/2024). The distance between their houses and the river embankment is about 200 meters. Nurkan said that the critical condition of the river embankment had been observed for at least the past ten years. The embankment often experiences landslides, and the river water sometimes seeps through.
Nurkan stated that the residents have repeatedly reported the condition to the local government. However, there has been no response or efforts made by the government to improve the situation. Due to concern that the river embankment is increasingly damaged, the residents collect money to buy sand, rocks, and soil.
"We use sacks to contain the material, then we place it around the embankments that have leaks. For the past ten years, we have been doing this embankment repair every year and it usually holds up against water. However, it collapsed last Thursday. Perhaps it was due to the swift flow of the river," said Nurkan.
Nurkan hopes that the government can be more proactive in responding to citizens' complaints. With that, in the future, disaster events can be prevented. Nurkan also hopes that the repair and strengthening of river embankments can be done immediately.
Meanwhile, during the inspection of floods in Demak, Minister of Public Works and Housing (PUPR), Basuki Hadimuljono, stated that the government is currently working to repair breached embankments, both at Sungai Lusi in Grobogan Regency, Central Java, and at Sungai Wulan in Demak. In addition, the breached embankments in tertiary rivers will also be repaired.
"For the one on the Lusi River, I think it will be finished in two days. We will make a parapet that is as high as the embankment. So far, water has run off because the road parapet is lower than the embankment. Meanwhile, to handle the broken embankment on the Wulan River, we have prepared five tools. "The target is that in the next two to three days the breach will be covered with a jumbo bag," said Basuki.
According to Basuki, there were a number of obstacles faced in closing the broken embankment on the Wulan River. To get to the point where the embankment broke, heavy equipment must pass through the top of the embankment which is now muddy. Therefore, the repair process cannot be rushed because care needs to be taken. Meanwhile, the material in the jumbo bag for covering the embankment was brought to the point where the embankment broke using a boat.
To reduce flooding in residential areas, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (Kementerian PUPR) has prepared 12 pumps with a capacity of 5 cubic meters per second each. These pumps will operate for 12 hours a day to pump water from residential areas to the Wulan River. To expedite the process, additional pumps will also be added.
In addition, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing is also trying to divert some of the water from the settlements to the irrigation channels and Sungai Juana. The flow to Sungai Juana is 76 cubic meters per second.
Basuki added that there are three long-term efforts that will be carried out to address the issue of flooding in the eastern Pantura region of Central Java. These three efforts are repairing and normalizing the 27-kilometer stretch of the Wulan River embankment, building embankments and normalizing the 60-kilometer stretch of the Juana River, and rehabilitating river embankments.
Impact on agriculture
Not only inundating residential areas and roads, but floods also submerged thousands of hectares of farmland, according to Bupati Demak Eistianah. She stated that there were 2,800 hectares of rice fields and 126 hectares of corn fields that were flooded.
"The flood has affected around 1,400 hectares. This number may increase due to the increasing number of submerged rice fields," said Eistianah.
Not only in Demak, some residents of Kudus are also suffering as their farmland is inundated by flooding. Hidayat (35), a resident of Kalirejo Village, Undaan District, Kudus, said that the flood, reaching a height of 60 cm, submerged his rice field since last Thursday. The flood occurred due to the overflow of the Lusi River.
"The embankment broke, so the water flooded into the rice paddies. As a result, my half-hectare rice field was inundated. However, the harvest is just one week away," said Hidayat.
Until Monday, the water in Hidayat's field had not receded. Worried that the rice would rot after being submerged for several days, Hidayat decided to harvest his rice on Monday. He estimated that his harvest would not be optimal as it had been submerged in water.
"The quality will surely decrease and the price will automatically decrease as well. The color of the rice is not white, but blackish. Additionally, the rice will also be easier to break. If the quality is good, it can sell for up to Rp 8,000 per kilogram. If this one can sell for Rp 6,000, that's already good," said Hidayat.
Hidayat hopes that the improvement and strengthening of the embankment in the Lusi River, which is located in the border area of Kudus and Grobogan, will also be carried out. In addition, he also requested that the river be normalized so that its capacity can increase.
The embankment broke, so all the water went into the rice fields. As a result, half a hectare of my rice plants were submerged.
On Monday, Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman visited Demak to provide assistance worth a total of Rp 30 billion to three flood-affected areas in Central Java, namely Demak, Kudus, and Grobogan. The assistance provided includes rice seeds for 10,000 hectares of tertiary irrigation networks, Rice Farming Business Insurance, pumps, combination harvesters, and tractors.
"Furthermore, for the agricultural sector with insurance, it can be replaced. Those who plant new crops can receive their seeds. Those with existing crops can receive seeds and fertilizers from the ministry. Additionally, to accelerate the harvest, we will send a combination harvester," said Amran.
Amran urges farmers to register for insurance in order to receive production guarantees from the government, especially for their agricultural land that experiences floods and other disasters. This year, Amran is determined to increase insurance coverage so that farmers do not suffer significant losses when disasters occur.