Assistance comes from churches as Indonesia faces flooding

By staff writers
February 8, 2007

Heavy rains in Jakarta, Indonesia, have caused severe flooding, marooning many people in their homes and work places. Water rose to a height of nearly four metres in some parts of the city, much of which lies below sea level - writes Ferne Burkhardt from Mennonite World Conference (MWC)communications office.

Flooding in the greater Jakarta area had already claimed 36 lives by 6 February and 340,000 had been left homeless, according to police reports. Christian, Muslim and other aid and development organisations have been assessing the situation and responding with emergency assistance.

Water also poured into the city from the higher grounds around about, creating lakes in low housing areas and forcing people to climb onto roofs or flee to the homes of relatives or to evacuation sites, according to Eddy Sutjipto, MWC executive committee member from Jakarta.

He explains that hotels were filled and passable streets were jammed. People who had a second floor were safe there, but many were not able to leave because roads were flooded.

“A friend of mine from church stayed at home for three days without electricity,” reported Elina Ciptadi, chair of AMIGOS, the Mennonite World Conference youth network, also from Jakarta. “[The flooding] severely impacted church attendance [on Sunday 4 February].”

“Dengue fever and typhoid are also spreading because of the heavy rains. Two of my friends are already hospitalized,” she added.

Church organisations are among those who have responded immediately. One Mennonite church immediately began organizing donations of clothes, food and water for flood victims at other Mennonite churches and in neighbouring areas.

Thunderstorms and heavy rains have been forecast for another two weeks, so the threat of more flooding has not abated.

Mennonites, along with Quakers and the Church of the Brethren, are among the 'historic peace churches', well known for their social witness and nonviolence programmes world-wide.

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