Huge waves overtopped the seawall yesterday from Kitty to Turkeyen as a result of an abnormal high tide flooding the East Coast Demerara road and creating traffic chaos as motorists were unable to journey beyond a certain point.
At around 4 pm yesterday, waves began to splash over the seawall between Kitty and Turkeyen and onto the roadway. The situation quickly escalated into flooding after about half an hour. By 4.30, water had swamped the roadway, with the deepest section being between the Ocean View Hotel and the University of Guyana (UG) Road. Motorists were forced to use just one lane of the road but as the wave action continued, the entire roadway was flooded and even that had to be abandoned.
Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn, accompanied by a team of officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, visited the area around 6 pm.
Speaking to the media, he said the flooding was affecting the area between Sheriff Street and Turkeyen. “We have a tide of 3.15 metres and on top of that tide we have riding 1.2 metres of waves and those are what are coming over the sea wall,” Benn said.
The minister also warned that a similar high tide is expected around 4 am so they are keeping an eye out to see whether there will be a reoccurrence.
As water flooded the roadway and streamed into person’s yards, the minister stated that the Liliendaal Pump Station could not go into operation until about 45 minutes because it was choked with a lot of debris. “We don’t want to risk losing the pump just for this event,” he said. “In the meantime the water will be collected in the canals.”
He said that the condition was expected to subside within half an hour or so and then hydromet officials would check on any condition out in the Atlantic that could be generating the large waves.
Scores of persons gathered along the seawall to take pictures of the huge waves as they splashed onto the roadways and the huge build up of traffic.
Joggers and persons who usually hang out at the seawall in the afternoon were all forced to return home.
Vehicles were diverted to the Railway Embankment road, but there were a few who took the chance and drove through the flood. At least one vehicle, a minibus, stalled in the high water. Its passengers were forced to disembark and find alternate transportation. Long lines of vehicles were seen from UG Road all the way to Vlissengen Road.
Drivers who tried to avoid the traffic took routes through Sophia, Bel Air and Kitty but ended up at the embankment road in the end. Policemen were also seen directing the flow of traffic at strategic points along the embankment.
Residents in the affected areas said they were scared that the situation would escalate into terrible flooding. Some were standing in their yards contemplating what next, while others stared helplessly at the huge waves hitting the seawall and splashing onto the road.