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Wealthy victims seek refuge
in hotels

Most of the 18,000 Jakartans whom the floods have forced to evacuate have taken refuge under bridges, in bus shelters and in the basements of shopping malls, to name but a few.

More fortunate people have taken comfort in hotels after the waters swamped their houses, or the roads around their houses, and they plan on staying there until their subdistrict heads say it is safe to return home.

Resident of Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, Astrid Malahayati, 25, said she and her family took sanctuary in the Acacia Hotel in Central Jakarta, when floodwaters almost a meter deep blocked access to her house on Thursday.

“The water didn’t reach my house, but we were afraid of being cut off and left stranded, and worried the electricity would shut down,” Astrid told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

In 2007, the water level was 30 centimeters higher and she and her family evacuated to her aunt’s house in Tanah Tinggi, Central Jakarta.

“We decided to evacuate to a hotel this year because my aunt’s house in Tanah Tinggi was also underwater. It has never happened before,” she said.

Astrid said she left the hotel and went home on Friday in the hope that the floodwaters had subsided.

“The water level had not decreased at all, so we went back to the hotel only to find that it was now fully booked,” she said.

“It was a struggle to find an available room on Friday afternoon,” she said, adding that she finally found a room in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Friday night.

Astrid and her family are among 40,425 Jakartans who the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said have been evacuated. A total of 250,000 people have been affected by the onslaught of rain, which began on Tuesday. The death toll in Greater Jakarta stood at 27, as of Sunday, officials said.

Another evacuee, Berry, 30, and his family stayed at the Harris Hotel in Kelapa Gading on Saturday, after being cut off for two days from his house in Cipinang, East Jakarta.

“My house itself was not under water, but all access was closed due to water as deep as 90 centimeters,” he told the Post on Saturday.

“Therefore, although the water level has decreased, we decided to stay at the hotel so we could still get food and other supplies should the water level increase again.”

Hotel Public Relations Association (H3) chairwoman Fransiska Kansil said that there was a higher number of guests than usual staying at hotels in the capital during the bad weather.

Fransiska, who is also the Hotel Borobudur communications director, said her hotel had received many guests who were unable to stay in their own homes.

“We saw a lot of guests whose houses have been affected by the floods. Most of them are from Kelapa Gading and Sunter,” she said.

The hotel, she said, had no difficulty in coping with the increased number of guests amid the turmoil, because it had prepared everything, including food supplies, in advance for the next incident.

The hotel has not raised its room tariff even though rooms were in high demand.

“In times like these, of course we can’t increase the price of rooms,” said Fransiska. (nad)

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