Monday, February 12, 2007
The street in front of the school.
Parts of Jakarta were flooded last week. It rained hard for two days but the ground was not yet saturated as the monsoon had been mild so far this year. So the rain alone should not have been enough to cause the massive flooding that certain areas experienced. All sorts of explanations have been whirling around but most point at corrupt and/or ineffective government. Much of Jakarta is at or below sea level so it is very important to control the amount of water coming into the city from the surrounding hills and within the city itself. This is done by a canal sytem through which water can be moved from one part of the city to another and eventually out to sea. Well, this did not work last week. Several of our friends houses and cars were damaged and we were inconvenienced somewhat but 1000's of people lost everything - and as is typical in the developing world - it is the poor who are most effected. Those with money have second stories on their houses and the means to evacuate. If you want to help, go and make a zillion dollars, pay off all the government officials to go away, then hire a team of urban developers and engineers the likes of who appear on the Discovery Channel type shows like MegaMonsterMachines. Pay them a ton of money if and only if they successfully rebuild the infrastructure of Jakarta.
Actually there are a number of relief agencies doing an excellent job of taking care of those in need and of course they need money. We are focusing on several members of our Indonesian staff who lost most of their stuff. The following are some images from our experience with the flood.
Our school is built up a bit from the street so most of it remained above water. The soccer field became a lake but that was about it. We also had a generator and our own supply of water, both of which were unavailable throughout the rest of the community. Several teachers who lived off campus ended up making their way to the school. Here is Olga, with her two little ones, Kiana, and Isabella, making her way to school from her flooded house, with the help of a few other teachers. It ended up we could not stay at school because getting off the campus was impossible unless you walked in thigh deep water or you hired a large truck to get you out. We did not have enough food at school to feed everyone. We also had many kids, including several toddlers and newborns and Alicia is 7 months pregnant, so we decided it would be best to evacuate to an unaffected part of the city for a few days.
The army truck leaving NJIS.
We decided to evacuate on Sunday, two days after the flood began. The water had been slowly increasing and all sorts of rumors were spreading about flood gates in the hills being opened, super high tide not allowing the water to recede, pumps here and there being broken. NJIS is built on a little high ground so it becmae a vitual island. Our generator kept the power and water running but we could not get out to food, medical service and such as the roads had become rivers. So somone made a few phone calls and the army came in one of their big transport trucks to get us out of the flooded area.
The army truck trying to navigate a way out of Kelapa Gading.
In addition to the water, broken down abandoned vehicles, underwater hazards like potholes and curbs, and various people walking and floating about made driving a challenge.
Emmerson on the truck.
She was pretty good thoughout the entire ordeal but the truck ride created a bit of a dilemma for her. It was during nap time so her body wanted to sleep, but it was exciting so she did not want to miss anything. Her curious mind won - but it was a battle.
Arriving at the hotel, where we could only stay for one night before moving again, because their water pump broke - not good when it is full to capacity of evacuees - many who had waded through nasty Jakarta flood water to get there.