TRAIL OF DEVASTATION AND LASTING IMPACT OF LESSONS NOT LEARNED

AZAREL CHRISTOPHER, a 13-year old budding Indonesian writer and talkedabout.org contributor, puts together this piece as his family battles to rebuild their destructed lives in the aftermath of the New Year floods that hit Jakarta and most of East Java, the worst flooding in the region in over a decade.

Utter devastation as wrecked homes, many of which are still inhabitable, see thousands of families looking to relocate out of Vila Nusa Indah in Bogor, East Java. – Pic: Azarel Christopher

Story and images by Azarel Christopher

It was the 1st of January 2020. The Cileungsi and Cikeas rivers were overflowing, and Vila Nusa Indah, Bogor, East Java, Indonesia got flooded at 10am.

A couple of hours after some people were evacuated to higher ground, the flooding reached the roofs of houses, and the water was knee-high on the second floor in some places.

The mud at the houses was 20 centimeters high, with a haunting, intolerable stench.

Many people got sick because their fitness levels dropped. Almost all of the people in the neighborhood got traumatised because of this disaster.

People were completely devastated. This flood is a national disaster, with almost all of Jabodetabek hit by floods.

At least 66 people were killed, and 60,000 displaced in the worst flooding in the area since 2007.

Homes were left underwater and at some point, flood waters breached even the upper floors of two-storey homes. – Pic: Azarel Christopher

Uncontrolled population growth in urban areas, poor land-use planning, and the lack of understanding among city residents and government about floods and its disaster risk exacerbate the impact.

Pollution has completely destroyed the whole neighborhood. This is, by far, the worst flood the people of Vila Nusa Indah have experienced. Literally everything is destroyed. Even one of the houses in the hood fell apart.

The Earth is slowly, but surely, dying. Humans have been destroying the Earth for years; from water pollution, to air pollution, to soil pollution, to thermal pollution, to radioactive pollution, to noise pollution, and light pollution.

Unsanitary conditions brought about by up to 20cm river mud have deemed many homes even too toxic to be inhabited. – Pic: Azarel Christopher

The human race has completely laid waste on the Earth since hundreds of years ago, when the Spanish conquered South America in the 16th century. They took over the Incas’s mines and soon began to pump clouds of lead dust over the Andes.

We have been polluting the Earth for about five centuries, and once we took notice, it was just too late.

Environmental issues in Indonesia may be caused by a rapid population growth, rapid industrialisation, illegal deforestation, and wildfires; which results in floods because of the lack of absorption. The over-exploitation of marine resources, rapid urbanisation, high levels of traffic congestion, and bad garbage management also play a part.

Large amounts of habitat destruction has resulted in hundreds of animals to be endangered. The rapid deforestation has made Indonesia the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.

Everybody is absolutely gutted. Almost all of the neighborhood were searching for a new neighborhood to move into.

The government helped with cleaning up most of the mud that was blocking the roads.

The government have cleared most of the mud on streets and access roads. But are overwhelmed by the number of destructed homes. People are left to fend for themselves, rebuilding their life devastated by a week of flooding. – Pic: Azarel Christopher

Currently, the environment around Vila Nusa Indah is still chaotic.

The whole neighborhood has become inhabitable. A flood happens every three to four years – and they get worse every year. The whole neighborhood and the places surrounding should be relocated, and should be made into a giant water dam or an urban forest.

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