While coronavirus infections are spiking in many parts of the world, the countries of Indonesia and East Timor have one more calamity to worry about: too much water. Torrential rains pounded the eastern side of the Indonesian archipelago and the country of Timor Leste on Easter Sunday causing massive flooding and widespread destruction to lives and property.
Weather forecasts reported the risk of heavy rains in eastern Indonesia and Timor Leste due to a low-pressure system on the western part of the island of Timor. Torrential rains began Friday, April 2, and gained strength until Sunday morning, turning major streets into rushing rivers.
According to local government officials, nonstop heavy rains resulted in flash floods and landslides, killing more than 50 people. News agencies reported overflowing dams and rushing water, submerging households and making rescue operations difficult. Rescuers fear more casualties as retrieval operations are ongoing.
Heavy rains and flash floods destroyed commercial establishments and infrastructure, including roads that connect the capital city of Dili to affected districts. Adventists in Dili are not exempt from nature’s wrath. In a social media post, Pastor Inaciu Da Kosta, executive secretary of the Timor Leste Mission, posted a video of his house in knee-deep water.
In a text message, Pastor Raymond House, president of the Timor Leste Mission, reported heavy damage to households in Dili. “Families in Dili are greatly affected by this calamity. The floods submerged their belongings. Electricity service is down. Many homes are badly damaged, some were completely washed down by the rushing waters. Streets are covered in mud; some bridges are broken and are not passable” House said. “The mission house accommodated five families whose houses were badly damaged. We are now assessing the situation,” he added.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Timor Leste will conduct rapid needs assessment today. ADRA will be a part of the coordinated assessment team organized by the Civil Protection of Timor Leste which will begin work on April 6. Initial reports from local government units mentioned bedding and cooking equipment as the first needs of families in evacuation centers.
While the number of evacuees grows daily, government units remind everyone to observe minimum health protocol inside evacuation centers (social distancing and wearing of masks) to avoid a spike in Covid-19 infections in the country.
“ADRA Timor Leste is coordinating with local authorities and the Timor Leste Mission to extend assistance to families and individuals affected by the calamity. Clean water is one of the major necessities here. We need funds to purchase additional water tank stations that can be filled up by local authorities,” said Virginia Pycroft, ADRA Timor Leste country director.
ADRA will be providing food, water, bedding, and cooking stoves to evacuees in the worst affected area of Tasi Tolu.
ADRA is the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. ADRA extends relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 130 countries. It aims to provide long-term development programs and immediate emergency response to communities through a network of global offices.
The Seventh-day Adventist church in the Southern Asia-Pacific region is requesting prayers for everyone in Timor Leste and East Indonesia.
To those who want to extend help and assistance to families affected by this calamity in Timor Leste, please visit ADRA Timor Leste’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/adratl; or send an email to [email protected]