Jakarta flooding

I am in Jakarta for four weeks on a short term consulting assignment.  I arrived on Sunday night and have since been wondering what to write for my blog this week. It started to rain on Tuesday, and hasn’t really stopped since, but it is monsoon season.  Throughout last night there was a heavy and constant thunderstorm and when I opened my curtains this morning, I thought it looked bit wet.  Then a couple of hours later I realised I actually had some real news to blog about.
All of these pictures were taken on my iPhone from where I am staying – the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Jakarta.  It is obvious I didn’t leave today – just as well I had planned to work from my room. I’ll mostly let the pictures tell the story.
The view outside my room at 8am
The view outside my room at 10am
Entrance to the hotel at 10am
Flooding is of course indiscriminate – the passenger in this Rolls Royce ended up having to bail out!
View from the hotel exit at 10 am
View from hotel entrance at 1200 noon.  You can see from the entrance sign that the water level had risen several centimetres:
The bailed out Rolls Royce made it for some temporary refuge
A stranded bus full of people.  They were stuck here for at least 2 hours.
Another bus of stranded passengers, and a press photographer.  You can clearly see the flow of the flooding around his legs.
And one bus that attempted to avoid the water.  Aye, one born every minute….
These guys also were lucky enough to get rescued.  What amused me was that some of them still managed to capture the scenes on their phones!
By mid afternoon, I noticed the police had started to deploy rubber dinghies and rescue stranded members of the public.  First, the dinghy sets out from its shallow launch point – taken from my room..
Next, they reach a police truck with rescued/sheltered people and load up… taken from the front of the hotel:
Then those rescued are taken to safety…
There were of course multiple boat rescues going on …
This group, like many, didn’t wait for rescue and took to wading their way to their destination, taking a short cut across the dry hotel entrance.  Here they are “re-entering” the flood waters.

The world over, kids always manage to have a fearless, fun approach swimming down the road…

And of course, the UN finally turned up late afternoon….

The hotel has of course been packed with residents and those stranded.  I chatted to one banker type who had been at a meeting across the road and made it over here to sit things out.  The British Embassy had apparently been evacuated, and I spoke to one visiting staff member who was supposed to be flying home this evening.  He waded back to the hotel, telling me the water at one point was up to his chest.

Hotel staff also have been effected.  At dinner, I asked after their welfare and family.  One girl had been on duty since the morning and couldn’t get home.  Another was also unable to get home and stoically maintained her composure as she reported her family were OK but the family home was flooded.   I can’t imagine not being able to get home to my family in similar circumstances.  Another staff member told me she waded the last few hundred metres to work.  Many are staying in the hotel overnight as they can’t get home.  It really is a testament to a well run establishment when staff are so dedicated, and manage to maintain a smile.  True hospitality, even if it is a 5 star hotel.

Today’s flooding in Jakarta has been reported across the world and has been triggered by the heavy monsoon rain, excessive run off from rivers upstream of low lying Jakarta and poor city drainage. It has been reported 4 have died and 20,000 have been evacuated from their flooded homes. I am genuinely astonished that this vibrant Asian capital can be paralysed by such inadequate drainage – particularly when the monsoon is an annual seasonal occurrence in Indonesia.

I estimate the waters have receded about 15 cms, but more rain is forecast over the next few days.  I just hope there are no more fatalities, those displaced are comfortable tonight and that they can soon get their lives back to normal.

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