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Jakarta Cleans Up, Shelters Thousands After Floods


As floodwaters recede in the Indonesian capital, residents have begun cleaning their neighborhoods, and tens of thousands are living in temporary shelters. Heavy rains inundated three-quarters of the city over the past week, killing at least 94 people in Jakarta and neighboring provinces, and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.

The floodwaters are receding here, leaving behind heaps of garbage, polluted mud and an estimated $460 million in damage to homes and businesses. A massive cleanup operation is now underway

Thousands of soldiers and volunteers are shoveling waste into garbage trucks, while residents rake murky water into the streets and hang soaked mattresses out to dry.

The city has deployed 70 fire trucks to spray water and disinfectant over the affected areas in a bid to prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

At least 70,000 people are living in temporary shelters.

The government is rounding up refugees scattered across the city into six tent cities, each capable of housing 5,000 people.

Indonesian Army Colonel Iman Soroso, head of a shelter in Central Jakarta housing 1,200 flood victims, says the facility will continue operating until people are able to return home.

He says the shelter provides comfort for people who have been traumatized. The facility offers a field kitchen, a worship area and a play area, and there are enough food and medical supplies to go around.

Ibu Lis, a mother of five whose home is still submerged in two meters of water, says she escaped the floods with only the clothes she wore. After spending several sleepless nights with hundreds of others under a toll road overpass, a government truck brought her to the shelter.

She says she is grateful for the food and the beds and the dry clothes. But over the last 10 days she has not seen or heard from her children, and that makes her very sad.

Health officials are concerned that people living in cramped conditions may be vulnerable to dengue fever, malaria, dysentery and cholera.

City hospitals are already struggling to treat increasing numbers of children suffering from diarrhea.

Those who have returned to damaged homes also risk illness from a lack of sanitation, exposure to rats, or by using water from contaminated wells.

With several weeks left in the country's rainy season, government officials say fresh rains could trigger more floods.

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