The Bitung Flood – Step I – Assessment
On Feb 12, a village in the town of Bitung (near Manado in Northeast Indonesia) was hit by a flood affecting several thousand people. We called our friend Dr. Devy in Manado, he called a friend of his, and it was determine they could use hygiene kits. So we filled out a Project proposal for Hing Kong and after a few days, it was approved. We actually took packed bags to the office Friday, expecting to have to fly, but it was not to be. Approval was granted on Saturday, so we left Sunday morning at 5:30 am. (This, of course, required that we get up at 2:00 am to catch a 3:00 am taxi, because you never know about traffic in Jakarta!) But anywhere in the world, it’s pretty universal that at 3:00 am, the traffic is light – and it was, so we made it no problem.
One of the Lord’s tender mercies: since we got here, making reservations (DeeAnn’s job) for air, hotel, or train is a real challenge – the sites always deny our credit cards, then she pulls out her hair, then she tries again, again denied, then the site changes the dates or flight times or destinations seemingly at will. She then has to pay by cash via internet bank exchange (a VERY complicated system here and we always have to have help from the office staff). So we came to the office to make reservations for Manado on Saturday, on our own, so ne help available. First try for airline – it took our credit card. Second try for hotel – it took our credit card. DONE. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
Accompanying us was Jemmy Mongan. Jemmy is a member from the Jakarta area who has helped the Humanitarian missionaries over the years. He is originally from Manado, speaks excellent English, had arranged for us to meet the mayor of Bitung, and volunteered to go and drive and translate for us, so we took him. It was a good thing!
We go to Manado at 9:45 am, and his brother picked us up and we went to the Church and met with the Branch President to talk about the Project. We then drove to Bitung (about an hour and a half) to visit with the Mayor to talk specifically about their needs. As it turns out, the mayor was unavailable, so we met with Sefferson Sumampouw, who is the village chief and works for the mayor and is in charge of responding to the flood to his area. He was the guy to see anyway! We met at the command center, which was up and running and was well organized.
It was VERY impressive how ‘on top’ of things Jefferson and his staff were. They were very well organized, had mobilized a number of volunteers and organizations, and knew what was going on. They knew how many homes had been affected by the water (1,169), how many homes were not habitable (465), how many families had been displaced (465), how many men, women and children (168, ages 1-5; 45 ages 6-12) were affected, etc. He knew….
Sefferson and his wife Gabby drove us out to tour flood site.
Pictures never do the scene justice. The flood happened a week ago and a lot of cleanup has already been done. Many of the people have cleaned up their homes and moved right back in. But there’s still a lot of damage – so they spend the day cleaning up and then stay in one of 6 shelters at night.
The people that lived in this home are being relocated as it can’t be rebuilt. They’re not very excited about that, because they have lived here for years – this is their home and their village.
At the end of the tour, it was apparent there seems to be plenty of bottled water and food. There is a shortage of hygiene items, so that is what we will get. It also became apparent that the notion of ‘kits’ doesn’t make a lot of sense at this stage. It was decided to leave the individual items loose, so people can take what they need, rather than a kit, where some things will go to waste. Where one person needs a shaver, another may not, etc.
So today, Monday, will be spend shopping for the items. Stay tuned for Step 2 – Purchasing.