Dili Families to Return Home After Deadly Floods

Dili Families to Return Home After Deadly Floods

Residents evacuate their homes at Tasi Tolu, Dili, on January 23 (Image/Antonio Gonçalves)

DILI, 27 January 2020 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste authorities have returned 40 people to their homes at Tasi Tolu, in Dili’s west, after they were forced to escape flash flooding last week which killed one person.

Timor’s Secretary of State for Civil Protection (SEPS), Alexandrino Xavier Araújo, said he had consulted the 17 families, who said they feel comfortable to return home.

“Today the [flood] victim families have asked to return to their homes,” he told TATOLI at the Kampung-Baru Fire Station at Comoro.

A young girl is plucked from the Audian drain (Image/Facebook)

Authorities have confirmed a young girl died during floods in the Audian area of Dili on January 22. A by-stander pulled her from the drain and she was taken to the National Hospital, but couldn’t be revived. She was in third grade in primary school (Escola Basiku Central).

Witness Joaquim Xavier told TATOLI he saw the victim fall in during “alarmingly” heavy rain, which thwarted rescue efforts for two hours.

“When we see the condition of the victim, I could tell we would not be able to save her life because her condition is bad,” he said.

“Although she was still breathing, [in the end] she went to be with God.”

More than 300 houses at Tasi Tolu and Comoro Village were inundated last Wednesday and Thursday (January 22-23) following heavy rain, according to updated figures from SEPS.

Some residents chose to stay, but others found their homes unliveable and were transferred to temporary accommodation at the fire station, and the nearby Dom Bosco centre.

Residents mop up after flooding at Tasi Tolu, January 23 (Image/Antonio Gonçalves)

Related News: Residents Evacuated in Dili After Floods Hit More than 200 Homes

Late January is typically the rainiest time of the year for Dili, and Timor-Leste’s weather bureau, MeteoClima, is predicting strong winds and downpours to return by Saturday — although rainfall is likely to be less intense than last week.

Stormwater drains cleared out, but not before time

Many residents and community leaders believe the inundation could have been minimised or avoided if stormwater drains had been properly cleared.

Sanitation Department staff clean out Tasi Tolu drains on Monday, January 27 (Image/Antonio Gonçalves)

Terra Santa Village Chief Bernardino Ferreira told TATOLI last Thursday (January 23) he had complained that a Chinese construction company had failed to remove debris from the drains which had spilt over from roadworks, “but they didn’t give it [any] consideration,” he claimed.

Since then, the Ministry of Public Works and city council workers have cleaned out the drains, and the national government has convened “urgent” talks in parliament to reach a solution to what is a frequent problem in the monsoon season. Opposition MP, and member of parliament’s infrastructure committee (Committee E) Fabião de Oliveira, said there must be a concrete plan.

President of Parliament’s Committee E, Abel Pires (Egas Cristovão)

“We are sad because our people [have] died by flooding. The government must see this as a serious issue,” he said yesterday.

Government MP and president of the committee, Abel Pires, agreed.

“The government must have the means and the capacity because [right now] the government goes in different directions.. If there is no intervention, next year this will happen again,” he said.

$50,000 in disaster aid – but some miss out

Minister Araújo said SEPS has approved “40 to 50 thousand dollars” for the month of January in disaster relief aid. The funds will be distributed to affected families to buy rice, oil, noodles and household goods.

SEPS staff deliver food air to Manleuana Village, January 3, after floods damaged homes last month. (Image/Egas Cristovão)

“As of now, the national and municipal emergency aid supplies are almost out of stock, [but] it can be used for victims until March, therefore we need to buy more reserves for this year,” he said.

Mr Araújo said he was grateful for the support from UNDP, the Red Cross, UNICEF, Plan International, the World Food Program and the Chinese Association of Timor-Leste for supporting the aid.

Minister Araújo said the government has distributed emergency support to 102 families affected, as of Monday, and more would follow.

The second commander of Kampung-Baru Firefighting Regiment, Diego de Araújo, said three of the families he’s been hosting at the fire station haven’t received any aid at all – because of a paperwork bungle

But he’s confident the double-up can be resolved soon.

“Shortly, they will receive the support from the government,” he said.

A total of 17 families took shelter at the fire station, as well as the Dom Bosco house in Comoro, for four nights after the downpour. But all have now returned home, he said.

Read the news in Tetum here: Família 13 Re-aloka ba Sira-Nia Uma, and Governu Prevee Osan Purvolta $50.000 Atende Dezastre Naturál, and Saneamentu Dili Hamoos Valeta Tasi-Tolu uja Ekipamentu Manuál

Journalists: Osória Marques; Tomé Amado; Nelson de Sousa

Editors: Robert Baird; Francisco Simões; Rafy Belo

Translation: Nelia Borges


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