ACTNews, CENTRAL BENGKULU - In approximately four and a half kilometer to the east of Padang-Bengkulu Main Road, Air Merah Village is located. Mud, puddle, and soil dominate the Plantation dirt path that leads to the village. Passing vehicles have to pass intermittently, especially for motorcycles, as the road is very slippery.
In the middle of the palm oil plantation, one of the villages affected by the major flood is still ruined. Even after eleven days since the flood, the villagers of Air Merah are still unable to come back to their homes, as their houses are still buried under the mud. At the moment, the villagers have to stay under makeshift tents or the mosque.
Listi (40) is one of the villagers of Air Merah village. She was cooking rice for her family that afternoon. Listi is one of the housewives who have to evacuate under the makeshift tents. She stated that her house is still filled with mud. Other than her family, the tarpaulin tent is also occupied by three other families. “We use this tent to stay and sleep in the mosque. Our house is still uninhabitable,” said Listi.
A similar fate is also faced by Yusriani (43), who is originally from Palembang. Her house is still ravaged and uninhabitable. She invited Masyarakat Relawan Indonesia (MRI) - ACT team to witness her house’s current condition.15-cm mud still buried her floors and buried the team’s boots when they step inside her house.
It was dark when the team entered Yusriani’s house. Up until Monday, electricity on buried houses was still on shutdown. “Up until now, there is no power. We have tried to turn on the power, but there was smoke right after. We are afraid of short circuit, so we have to stay in the tents or the mosque.” said Yus (6/5).
Yus and the rest of Air Merah villagers have to welcome Ramadan in the aftermath of a disaster. However, for Yus, she will continue Ramadan in the best way possible. “This Ramadan will be different than last year. Last year, we prepared everything for Ramadan, but this year, we have to face this situation,” she said. In addition, she is still not sure whether her house will be habitable during the Eid. Yus admitted that, after a dozen of years of staying in Air Merah village, it was the first time that a major flood struck and destroy the houses.
Other than visiting several of the Air Merah villagers on the first day of Ramadan, the team also distributed hundreds of meal packages for the villagers. The meal was cooked and served from ACT Public Kitchen in Pondok Kelapa sub-district.
The coordinator of Disaster Emergency Response, Sutaryo, stated that ACT distributed the meals for iftar. “We distributed 300 portions of iftar meals for the flood victims of Air Merah village,” said Sutaryo.
Yusriani, as the head of neighborhood association, stated that she was very grateful for the iftar meals. In her opinion, the meals from ACT is really helpful in current limited situation, as the villagers do not have to look for cooking ingredients. “We thought about the food that we want to eat. Do we have to go to the main road to get vegetables? But Alhamdulillah there are meals,” she said. The ready to eat meals are the main course for the first Iftar for Yusriani and the villagers who evacuated to emergency tents.
Up until last Monday, the villagers of Air Merah still remained under the emergency tents, as their houses were destroyed and submerged by the mud. The major flood struck eight regencies and one city in Bengkulu on Friday (26/4). Central Bengkulu, where Air Merah village is located, is one of the worst-affected areas.