Indonesia Seeds Clouds After Flooding Kills 43
After nearly 15 inches of rain fell in one day and caused flash floods and landslides in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, that destroyed 60,000 homes and killed at least 43 people, the Indonesian Air Force sent two planes to drop salt on approaching rain clouds to break them up before they reached the city, according to Reuters.
The slowly sinking capital that is crumbling into the Java Sea has started the new year with a humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people were displaced and over 190,000 were evacuated by the sudden deluge on Dec. 31, 2019.
To stave off further damage, Indonesia's technology agency BPPT teamed up with the air force to carry out three rounds of cloud seeding earlier today, with more expected when needed, a BPPT official said, as Reuters reported.
"All clouds moving towards the Greater Jakarta area, which are estimated to lead to precipitation there, will be shot with NaCl (sodium chloride) material," Indonesia's technology agency BPPT explained in a statement, as the BBC reported.
The two small planes dropped salt on rain clouds above the Sundra Strait. A larger plane was loaded and on standby if more rain clouds approached the city, according to the Guardian.
Indonesian authorities often use cloud seeding or salt flares into clouds to try to catalyze rainfall to help put out forest fires during the dry season, according to the Guardian.
"We will do cloud seeding every day as needed," said BPPT chief Hammam Riza to reporters, as Reuters reported.
Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, who last year announced that the capital would move to East Kalimantan on Borneo to help relieve Jakarta's overcrowding, blamed stalled flood control infrastructure projects for the disaster. Meanwhile, authorities are using hundreds of pumps to try to suck water out of residential areas and from public infrastructure like roads and railways, as the Guardian reported.
However, even in areas where the water has receded, mud and debris have prevented people from returning to their homes, according to the BBC.
Jakarta regularly experiences flooding during the rainy season, which started in November. This week's flood was "one of the most extreme rainfall" events since records began in 1866, the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said on Friday, as Reuters reported.
This week's flooding is the worst since 2013 when dozens were killed by overflowing canals when monsoons struck the city. More than 50 people died in floods in the capital in 2007, as Reuters reported.
"This year's flooding was phenomenally bad because of the extremely high rainfall," said Yayat Supriatna, a Jakarta-based urban planning expert, as the AFP reported.
VIDEO: 🇮🇩 Hundreds of people displaced because of severe flooding in the Indonesian capital #Jakarta hold Friday pr… https://t.co/mPrp4C87qr— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1578057300.0
He added that Jakarta's many infrastructure problems, including poor drainage and rampant overdevelopment, worsened the situation.
"Yes, the weather conditions were terrible, but this was exacerbated by awful urban planning," said Supriatna.
Authorities said 17 died in floodwaters, while 12 were killed in landslides. Several people died after coming into contact with downed live electrical lines and from hypothermia. As a precaution, officials turned off the electricity in many districts in Jakarta as a precaution, according to the UPI.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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