President David Granger has ordered ”immediate relief” for hundreds of Region Eight residents hit by heavy flooding that has submerged homes but up to press time it was unclear what actual aid has been provided by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).
The Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) in a Facebook post last evening called on persons to pray for the residents of several villages affected since Wednesday including Chenapau, Kaibarupai, Sand Hill and Waipa, all in the Potaro-Siparuni Region.
Stabroek News was able to contact Edward McGarrell, Toshao of Chenapau, a village located on the Potaro River, who explained that though the rains have stopped, the floodwater continues to rise.
According to the Toshao, the area experienced nonstop rainfall on Wednesday causing the river to overtop its banks, almost submerging several homes in the process.
Reports from the Toshao are that some 30 farms are now under water while a growing number of households are flooded. In addition to this, one house was completely swept away, taking with it all of the homeowner’s personal documents.
Meanwhile, pictures posted on McGarrell’s Facebook page captured several residents as they waded through what was in some instances waist high water, trying to save whatever household items they could.
And despite limited council resources, McGarrell said the village continues to assist as best as possible with the transportation and relocation of those affected.
Providing an update on the situation in the other villages, the APA in a statement issued last evening said that in the case of Waipa Village, the scale of damage is so immense that most of its 329 residents have been forced to take refuge in the village community centre.
“The entire village has been affected and residents are without food and water. A similar situation has been reported for Sand Hill, a satellite of Waipa, where its 110 residents have been forced to also take refuge in a single building as no home has been left unaffected. Residents are imploring.. the arrival of quick relief of food and drinking water,” the statement read.
As of Wednesday, there has been no contact with Kaibarupai, the APA said, adding that up to late afternoon, the village was fearful that their means of communication would be submerged and no further updates have since come through.
“Our contact in the region, via Paramakatoi Village, has been unable to communicate with Itabac but it is feared that they have also been affected as they are generally susceptible to flooding,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the APA while continuing to gather information from the region, is making calls for emergency support in the form of food and other supplies for the benefit of those affected.
Persons are asked to contact the organization’s office numbers on: (592) 227-0275 or (592) 223-8150 or Michael Mc Garrell at (592) 673-7480, Laura George at (592) 697-3093 and Jean La Rose at (592) 624-2992.
The Ministry of the Presidency in a statement last evening said that the Government, through the CDC, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) are actively assessing the sudden flooding in Kaibarupai, Sand Hill and Waipa.
“…More than 30 persons, who were trained by the CDC in Disaster Risk Reduction are present in the region and have been called upon to render assistance while the CDC has contacted and asked the regional officials and members of the joint services to conduct an assessment in the affected areas,” the statement said.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon speaking on the issue during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing said that he was in receipt of a preliminary report on the situation.
The report said that Kaibarupai, a village with a population of 100 persons is indeed flooded, with water levels reaching heights of 12-20 feet; as it relates to Waipa, floodwaters have since affected 95% of the village, with the water reaching heights between 5-15 feet with the same being reported for Sandhill village.
Requests for food and clothing have been made by the affected villages, the report added.
According to Harmon, the CDC has been activated along with the GDF and the Regional Democratic Council for Regions 8 and 9, to offer support where necessary.
In addition to this, a Skyvan was expected to leave Timehri just around midday yesterday destined for the affected areas and tasked with conducting a “proper assessment (on) what the true situation is.”
Stabroek News has since been informed that though the aircraft was seen circling Chenapau, residents are curious as to why it did not attempt to conduct a ground assessment as well. The Ministry of the Presidency statement last evening said that the plane was unable to land.
Harmon offered the assurance that the CDC has already started taking steps to get relief to the affected parties.
“A GDF patrol is in a village not very far away from this area and this patrol will be taking a look at what is happening there and to also render relief where possible,” he added.
The APA yesterday criticised the CDC for what it said was the “disrespectful manner,” in which their attempts to glean an update on the situation were treated by the relief body.
“The Amerindian Peoples Association has been trying to get an update from the Civil Defence Commission in pointing out the desperation of the communities in needing assistance. We are concerned that the response is extremely slow even as we recognise the need for an ‘assessment’ which the CDC says it first needs to conduct. At this point, an update we have is that about 10 houses have been washed away in Waipa and more than 20 under water; many farms are under water. Kaibarupai is hit harder with a landslide causing the Ireng River to sweep away their belongings. Their Health Centre is about 4 feet under water. Both villages say they are in need of urgent assistance!!!” the APA said in its post.