Sun, 07 Dec 2003

Flood spreads in districts in Medan municipality

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

Flooding hit three districts in the North Sumatra capital of Medan on Saturday, forcing thousands of families to temporarily abandon their homes. No fatalities were reported.

The flooding hit at 1 a.m on Saturday after the Deli River burst its banks. Floodwaters were up to three meters deep.

The districts were Medan Maimoon, Medan Labuhan and Medan Sunggal.

The damage was mitigated as the flooding, an annual occurrence, had been anticipated due to incessant rain on Friday. Residents patrolled the banks of the river during the night and gave the alarm when the river overflowed its banks.

Suparman, from Sei Mati subdistrict in Medan Maimoon, said they were flooded almost every year.

"Therefore, we have learned from experience and have been able to identify ways to save our families and belongings from the floods."

Medan municipal administration spokesman Arlan Nasution said the flooding was worst in Medan Maimoon. All schools in the district were closed Saturday, he said.

Medan Maimoon district head Nasib said that 700 residents had to abandon their homes during the flooding.

They were accommodated in several government offices or stayed with relatives.

As of Saturday afternoon, many had begun returning home as the flooding had largely subsided.

Arlan said the government would not distribute aid because most of the residents had already gone home.

Floods are rampant in North Sumatra during the rainy season, and the situation is rapidly deteriorating due to severe deforestation.

Only recently, a flash flood ripped through a resort town in the province, leaving more than 140 people dead.

In a related development, one person was killed and four houses destroyed after a storm swept through Sangihe regency in North Sulawesi on Thursday and Friday.

In the Central Java town of Kediri, flooding hit Ngancar district on Friday and Saturday, but no fatalities were reported. The flooding resulted in a bridge in Pandantoyo subdistrict being badly damaged, which left a number of residents isolated, Antara news agency reported on Saturday.