A Year After Central Sulawesi Disasters: A Story on The Recovery Efforts

In 2018, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake devastated Palu, Sigi and Donggala. The efforts to rehabilitate this region continue, from evacuating the victims to educating the public about disaster mitigation.

A Year After Central Sulawesi Disasters: A Story on The Recovery Efforts' photo
The earthquake destroyed many buildings and claimed many casualties. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, CENTRAL SULAWESI - The island of Celebes was rocked by massive earthquakes on Friday (9/28/2019). Indonesian Bureau of Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) recorded a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that shook at 2 p.m. Central Indonesia Standard Time followed by a magnitude 5.0 earthquake 28 minutes later.

At 5:02 p.m., a magnitude 7.7 earthquake, which was later updated to magnitude 7.4 shook. The locals became increasingly panicked following the tsunami warning issued by BMKG. everyone scattered and sought a safe place.

Just after the earthquake caused by the movement of the Palu-Koro fault, a massive wave of 1.5-meter-height swept through the region. The tsunami, or “Standing Water” as the locals call it, immediately swept through the coasts of Palu and Donggala.

Just a few moments after the earthquake, soil liquefaction happened at four locations in Central Sulawesi, namely in the villages of Jono Oge, Balaroa, Petobo, and Palu City. The ground moved like a whirlpool that sucked and dragged anything on its surface. The earth spewed black mud that drowned the neighborhoods. The soil liquefaction happened because the soil lost its rigidity due to strong shocks caused by earthquakes.

"During the earthquake, the land subsided up to 5 meters in some places, and in some areas, if even rose up to the height of a house," explained the National Disaster Mitigation Center (BNPB)’s Head of Data Center, Information, and Public Relations Sutopo Purwo Nugoro when discussing the development of the evacuation of Donggala earthquake victims on Monday (10/1/2018).

Central Sulawesi mourned, as did Indonesia. As of October 10, 2,045 people were confirmed dead, according to BNPB. Meanwhile, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT)’s date mentioned that, as of Sunday (9/30/2018) 16,732 people lost their homes in 123 affected areas.

Assisting the recovery of Palu, Sigi and Donggala

One year has passed. Since this great disaster shook, ACT has been assisting the earthquake-affected victims in Palu, starting from evacuating the bodies, providing basic aid packages and medical service, to initiating a post-disaster recovery program that continues to this day to help Central Sulawesi recover from its grief.

As reported in February 2019, more than 900 Integrated Community Shelter (ICS) complexes have been built for the disaster survivors in Central Sulawesi. Several units of Family Shelter at several points also continued to be built throughout that month.

ACT also launched several economic empowerment programs for the disaster survivors. In July 2019, about 40 inhabitants of the Langaleso Integrated Community Shelter (ICS) in Dolo Subdistrict, Sigi Regency participated in ACT Central Sulawesi economic empowerment program. Divided into four groups, each group consisted of 10 people.

The Head of the ACT Central Sulawesi Program Mustafa explained, the economic empowerment programs aim to rebuild the economic potential together with ICS Langaleso inhabitants. The participants of the program were taught how to produce fried shallots, one of Central Sulawesi's special foods and merchandises.

"We believe that, after the disasters, these empowerment programs can be a solution for the rehabilitation of Sigi’s economic potential, beginning from the society to benefit the society," Mustafa said.