I Wayan Suada, 53, rowed his boat slowly around dozens of roofs of inundated houses in Tamblingan Lake. Two girls also rowed a boat to pick flowers for religious offerings from the highest branch of a swamped tree in the lake.
At least 43 families lost their homes after the lake overflowed and flooded part of Tamblingan hamlet in Munduk village, Buleleng, for the past four months.
The victims spent their New Year’s evening evacuating their belongings to higher land in the Tamblingan protected forest.
On Saturday, Suada built a new byre for his cows after setting up a temporary shelter for his family, some 300 meters from the swollen lake.
“This is the third time I have made a new home,” he said while pointing to roofs of his previous two shelters.
He never expected that the lake’s water level would continue to rise slowly and inundate the whole
The uncertain situation, however, has not changed local people’s minds about staying instead of
relocating to other places.
Suada, for instance, and 21 other families make their livelihood there by working as fishermen or taking Hindus across the lake to pray at nearby temples.
Since he was a child, he recalled, he had helped his father take hundreds of Hindus across to the temples. There are at least 31 temples around the 115-hectare Tamblingan Lake.
Some villagers work as guides to tourists who camp or trek in the forest.
Even though the lake continues to overflow, dozen of tourists still come. Local people still welcome them warmly, offering canoe rides and guided treks. Unlike other lakes in Bali, Tamblingan remains a natural destination without modern accommodations.
“I have to be prepared to move to a higher place whenever the water floods our home,” said I Nyoman Sudiani, a middle-aged woman. She has built a house on stilts as a shelter for her family.
Sudiani and Suada said the condition was similar in 1972, when the lake overflowed and inundated houses, forcing villagers to move from one place to another.
They said the government had sent them staple food packages but had yet to find a solution to the flooding.
Most of the 43 families whose houses are flooded have moved in with relatives in other villages because they cannot afford new homes. There are only five families living in tents or temporary shelters.
The ecosystem of Tamblingan and neighboring Buyan lakes are threatened due to land conversion.
At Buyan Lake, about 100 hectares of agricultural land and a school are flooded. “We need a better strategy to manage the lakes’ ecosystem and to conduct disaster mitigation,” AA Alit Sastrawan, head of the provincial environment agency, said.