Flood Adventures

It’s not a February if it hasn’t flooded at least once in Jakarta. True to this saying, Jakarta was submerged in flood once – no, twice more this year – the heaviest flow being today. Unlike the previous two years when I was stuck in school for hours, waiting for a truck or cart to pick me up and take me home, this year, I plunge myself into the thick of it and experience just how scary of a situation being stuck in a flood could be.

I didn’t document any of these events on my phone or any camera so I’ll try to recount it as best as I can.

It all started at 6.30 AM when I woke up panicking over the fact that I haven’t edited my team’s paper for Religion due today. Okay, I didn’t freak out at first. But then I got an message from Sydney, saying she was stuck in an-hour long traffic to school. I immediately freaked out because I needed to edit the paper and get ready for school before 7.30 AM as I had an English speaking exam on  8.20 AM. Long story short, I finished the paper at 7.30 AM and finished getting ready for school at 8 AM.

I grabbed my things, put on some moisturizer, brought my makeup bag, grabbed a piece of bread and decided I would eat breakfast, prepare for the speaking exam, and make myself look presentable in the car. I was honestly praying that there would be no traffic.

God didn’t allow those prayers to turn into reality. The moment I got out of the house, I was stuck in traffic for about 10 minutes. Believe when I say I was cussing more than Eminem throughout those 10 minutes, while frantically messaging my partner for the exam who was already there, apologizing repeatedly.

When the clock turned into 8.20, I was still stuck in traffic with miles to go to get to my school. My partner was like “where are you? Our turn is now. They’re calling us earlier than expected because the three pairs before us aren’t here.” I cussed some more, messaged him some more, called him a million times, posted an angry status on Line, freaked out, until finally he said “they’ve skipped our turn.” Through all those things, I remained stuck in the same spot. My mom was calling me repeatedly, telling me to go back home because she got word on Twitter that my school’s flooded. My friends were group messaging, sharing info and telling each other not to go to school. Alas, I finally turned around and headed back home.

It was good that I made the decision to return home as those who already got to school complained that they weren’t allowed to go home and the water level was rising. I know, my school can be a bit weird at times. A couple of minutes later, I got word that the school has postponed all the exams today due to lack of student attendance.

But then another problem arose: my sister was still in school. How the hell were my mom and I supposed to navigate through the flood and pick her up? We left earlier, preparing for bad traffic but we weren’t exactly met with bad traffic along the way. We were met with water. Lots and lots of water.

The first time water decided to be our welcoming committee was at a Shell gas station. We were doubting that our Nissan Livina could make it past the huge wad of water in front of the gas station, but we trudged on anyway. Our Livina made it, but the gas station supply tank didn’t because it got submerged in water and thus, we couldn’t refill our gas there. Thank God for another gas station a couple of miles ahead. We ended up missing Pertamax with our old Shell fuel. I don’t know if this would be bad for the engine, but it would be better to have a bad engine at this current time than to run out of gas in the thick of things.

The second time we met a huge amount of water was in front of the presidential palace. Yes, the presidential palace was flooded. The wheels of our Livina were all submerged in water and it took a lot in our car to keep on moving forward. We were cautious, watching the other cars in front of us. It was a pain-staking couple of feet because the water was deep and we were scared that it would stall our car and the motorcycle drivers in front of us who had stalled just wouldn’t get out of the way. But there were a couple of emergency first response team members directing traffic ahead of us, helping stalled vehicles and they helped us find a way to get through without stalling. I was holding my breath the entire time.

I feel as though each time we encountered a flood, it advanced into a tougher condition for our Livina to get through. With that being said, this final time we encountered a heavily flooded spot was the scariest for me. We had to go through an entire road submerged in an adult’s knee level of water. This time, there were no emergency response teams – just a bunch of local people helping others out. I’m going to talk about this one in detail.

We made a turn towards this one particular road because the other roads were too flooded for our petite Livina to pass. This one held the highest hopes. We were sticking on the right lane – the highest lane of all – when out of nowhere, a school bus got stuck on a traffic barrier on the right lane. The left lane was clear but it was flooded so deep that kids could swim in it and we didn’t know if our car could make it. But then we saw one, two, then three cars our size daring to venture those treacherous waters and we made a break for it.

We cleared the left lane just fine, went back to the right lane, but it turned out that the right lane on the road past that school bus was just as badly flooded as the left lane. Our car was struggling the entire time, shaking and vibrating and sounding so strained. We kept gassing and gassing. Heck, I was patting my car’s interiors, saying “c’mon, you can make it, c’mon”. Our car shook some more and then water started entering the car’s interiors through the door seams as another car passed us on the left lane. But we trudged onward until we reached higher ground.

Our little, petite Nissan Livina managed to get past such water levels.

Afterwards, we found paths with no flood and it got easier to get home. When we did, I was just overwhelmed with relief and joy – until I saw that my house had flooded and there was a lot of cleaning up today. And then I phoned Pizza Hut and they told me that there would be no delivery service running today.

But hey, at least I’m having it better than some of my friends. Some of them have no electricity.

This year’s flood has taught me a couple of lessons. First is that sometimes the worst things happen in order for the best consequences to happen. Imagine if I had edited that paper last night and gone to school earlier. I would still be stuck in school right now instead of sitting here, talking about the flood. Some of my friends couldn’t get home from school and had to stay over at a friend’s or check into a hotel near our school, buying cheap clothes and all because they couldn’t get home. I retract all those curses and complaints from when I got stuck in horrible traffic because if it weren’t for that traffic, I doubt that I would return home that early.

Another thing is that we are actually stronger than we believe ourselves to be. I know my car isn’t a good example but watching my car being pushed that much today, watching it struggle and still make it through the horrible flood made me think that if cars are that strong, then we humans sure are stronger than that. We will encounter problems in our lives that we don’t think we would get through, but we will get through them with enough perseverance and willpower. And when we do encounter that kind of problems, we don’t stop. If we stop there, we’ll be stuck in there. We trudge onward. We push onward. In spite of our weaknesses and our inability, we just have to get up and keep on going because we are strong enough to get through it.

These are my flood adventures today. Admittedly, it was fun. However, I do not recommend this for you to do right now – unless you have an awesome Range Rover that can pounce through the flood like a boss. Don’t forget to clean yourself up after going through any bit of flood.

Stay safe everyone! (and whatever God you believe in, please pray for this rain to stop. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want to go through hell cleaning my house up, can I?)

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