A Day in Kemijen

Blog Post by Emily Kukulies

Today’s focus was on interviewing Kemijen residents at the individual household level.  Our survey was designed as a collaboration between UH Manoa and UNDIP students. It included some basic demographic questions but primary addressed the personal experiences with flooding at each address. We learned how each household makes choices about their home and way of life based on the effects of the floods.

The teams were comprised of an UNDIP student to interview in Bahasa, an interpreter to translate, and two UH Manoa students taking notes and photos. We divided the Kemijen area into geographic groups based on the feedback of the previous day regarding who has the greatest incidence of flooding.

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All the homeowners and renters we encountered were really friendly and open people. They were willing to give time to help with our project. The people below took a break from the task of rebuilding their home. For two months they have been continuously working on it brick by brick. They conserve as many materials as possible to reduce the renovation cost.

This man is not able to do a full renovation right now but he has put a new layer of first down as a first step towards raising his flood from flood water. He is pounding the dirt with brick to firm it up.

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In our group, we were able to meet and learn the stories of several families that struggle with the impacts of flooding.  Some families have homes that are significantly below street level due to subsidence. These residents are struggling to fund projects to raise their homes.  The widowed woman below has had water in her home continuously for 18 years and cannot afford renovations. She was able to build up a small area inside to sleep on that is dry when the tidal flooding is controlled. As a result of the constant water she reports many health impacts. There are also dangers from live electricity in her water-filled home.

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Those who have raised their house recently, also struggle because they know from their experiences, they will have to do it again. Thankfully, most reported a reduced amount of flooding in recent months, making it easier to save for improvements. You can see behind her as the plaster marks the previous roof level and the exposed bricks are the new height added. The floor in the front of the house is wood over dirt rather than cement or brick because they could not afford to reconstruct the front room that floods the most.

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