Heavy rains and storms have been ravishing Bali for over a week. Over the weekend, the devastation continued as weather damaged vital transportation routes and rural communities. Several bridges in West Bali collapsed due to landslides and flooding, causing delays from Gilimanuk to Denpasar.
The Head of the Jembrana Regional Disaster Management Agency, I Putu Agus Artana Putra, told reporters on Monday, 17th October, that teams are working as hard as they can to resolve the issue. He said, ‘Our team has gone to locations hit by disasters, and we continue to monitor. This disaster was caused by overflowing water from the river’.
Key bridges along the Denpasar-Gilimanuk route have been destroyed, like Biluk Poh, as well as smaller bridges in rural villages. Though the collapsed bridges and reduced road access in rural areas do not affect the transportation route between the Bali capital and Java, access to remote villages is a serious issue for vulnerable communities.
Putra continued to explain that the extent of the damage is yet to be realized. His teams are working around the clock to build a clear picture of the issues at hand. He said, ‘We are still continuing to collect data on damage, both public facilities and residents’ houses due to this flood. Coordination with related institutions is also carried out to accelerate assistance for victims’ residents’.
With more rain expected in the coming days, and it only being the start of the rainy season, Putra urged families to move to safety as soon as possible if that option is available. He said, ‘We urge residents to find a safe place. The weather is still uncertain at this time’. Hundreds of families from West Bali through to Denpasar have tried to escape the flooding. Many have had to move livestock which usually graze in fields and community-owned land along the river banks.
The flooding around Biluk Poh Bridge in Mendoyo District, Jembrana Regency, is the biggest issue facing disaster management teams at this time. The Chief of Jembrana Police, AKBP I Dewa Gede Juliana, told reporters, ‘The flash flood occurred on Sunday 16th October until 22:00 WITA and brought large logs that were dragged by the river currents and are still scattered on the bridge’.
Over 120 officers from the army, national police, disaster management agency, and search and rescue teams have been deployed in the area. The clean-up operation is underway, but with more rain predicted, teams are proceeding with caution.
Juliana told reporters, ‘We are still processing the heavy equipment already working, and we are careful because we do not know the condition of the bridge after the flood’. He confirmed that the route from Gilimanuk to Denpasar via the Biluk Poh bridge will be impassable for the foreseeable future. He advised drivers to seek an alternative route via Singaraja.
Late last week, local leaders held meetings across Bali to plan for potential flash flooding, landslides, and storm damage. In Gianyar, Regency leaders gathered to discuss what needed to be done to remove trees at risk of falling and clean gutters and waterways in preparation for the coming rain. In communities outside of Ubud, local leaders had put excavators on standby and coordinated with the local fire department to ensure that resources were available should landslides occur.
On Thursday, many communities in Jembrana Regency faced flash flooding, with 97 homes reported as being affected by rising waters. One community has to send a rubber dingy to rescue teachers and children from an elementary school that had been cut off due to flooding. Some schools in the area remain closed, and online lessons are being carried out to keep learning flexible in case emergency evacuations are needed.
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