When your house gets flooded and everything you own washes around your ankles, you feel like the world has been turned upside down. Anyone who has ever lived through flooding in Jakarta will know what I mean, but I’ll get to that later.
Over the last week the rains have come in the late evening. The rumble of thunder in the distance bringing with it a welcome drop in temperature, but the pssibility of flooding in Jakarta. Despite this I went to sleep with a smile on my face after returning from the pub last Wednesday night as the dull thump of rain hammered rhythmically on the rooftop.
I drifted in and out of sleep, waking up and closing my eyes to the steady patter of raindrops or the sound of a torrential downpour. When I woke up in the morning it was still raining and I knew there would be flooding in Jakarta, quite where it would be I wasn’t so sure.
Flooding in Jakarta is a recurrent problem; in fact most of the city is actually below sea level. Maybe that was part of the reason that the Dutch decided to colonise Indonesia, feeling right at home under the waves. After they arrived they quickly created a system of canals to manage the cities water levels and kept the waters moving so mosquitoes couldn’t settle and breed.
Fast forward more than sixty years and after almost a generation of neglect and under spending what you have is a system of canals that are full of human waste and rubbish. In short not something capable of dealing with the monsoon like rains that hit the city causing flooding in Jakarta.
In total almost 20,000 people were made homeless as a result of flooding in Jakarta and the meteorologists believe more heavy rains are on the way. The city, which is my home, has drawn to a virtual standstill; I had trouble going more than a couple of hundred metres from my home.