By Devin Watkins
The Archdiocese of Jakarta began a campaign to collect funds and relief items just a day after floods struck the capital.
Food, toiletries, and medicine are being handed out to people forced from their homes.
The Daya Dharma Institute even provided several boats to help people reach higher ground.
Yosepha Ajeng, who is with the Institute, told ucanews that the social services arm of the local Church has asked Catholics “to provide food, soap, and medicines to victims.”
Worst deluge in decades
Heavy rains struck Jakarta and surrounding areas late on New Year’s Eve and into Wednesday.
The Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysics Agency said Friday that the deluge was among the worst to hit Southeast Asia’s largest city since records began in 1866.
Eight of Jakarta’s 13 rivers have overflowed their banks, submerging vast swaths of the city.
Television footage showed mud-covered cars littering the streets, some piled on top of each other.
The rains have continued, and Indonesia’s air force was called in to seed clouds with salt in a bid to halt the precipitation.
Rising death toll
At least 53 people have died so far, and nearly 175,000 others were forced from their homes.
Save the Children, an aid agency, expressed fears the high waters might contaminate drinking water reservoirs, making them a breeding ground for infectious diseases.
Jakarta’s metropolitan area is home to over 30 million people.
Anies Baswedan, the local governor, has warned that more flooding is likely during the rainy season that lasts until March.