Heavy rain has flooded large swathes of inland areas, cutting off some communities and at least 200 families in villages along the upper Demerara River have been flooded out, government officials say.
The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has been mobilised along with the Ministries of Agriculture, Amerindian Affairs and Health and the Region 10 Administration. “The need for food supplies and potable water in affected areas has been confirmed. Supplies have been sent out and further distribution by the CDC will continue during the week”, said a statement from the Office of the President.
Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn and Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Kellawan Lall flew to the area yesterday to assess the extent and impact of the flooding in the riverain areas including the mines area communities in Linden, Great Falls, Malali and Muritaro. Three Friends and Coomacka have also been flooded. The Ministers also examined the state of the breach on the Mabura road, where water washed away a section of the crucial artery on Sunday night. One breach has been repaired while the other is expected to be sealed on Saturday, said
Benn at a press conference at his office.
Reading the government statement, Benn said that spring tides and unusually heavy torrential rains have swollen the waters in the riverain areas in the upper Demerara River. Adjoining roads have been rendered impassable, washed away and housing areas and farms flooded, he said. According to the statement ongoing rehabilitation of the roads has been heightened and additional rehabilitation on the Kwakwani road is also being planned. The CDC will be setting up the staging area in Linden, supported by the Linmine Secretariat and the regional
Benn said that there is flash flooding coming down from the creeks on the Demerara and Essequibo watershed. Rivers have burst their banks in various areas, he said. There was overtopping of the Linden-Ituni road and two crews are working on this, he said. Of the five villages on the Upper Demerara, Malali and Muritaro are said to be the communities most severely affected, with houses completely surrounded by water.
Additionally there is high water in the Berbice River at Kwakwani, while Rockstone, Canje and Bartica have also been flooded. “We are going through an extreme event at the moment and it’s a challenge we have to manage”, Benn said. “In the meantime, people have to desist from travelling on the roads when they really don’t need to at this time”.
Speaking on relief efforts, Lall added that during their visit yesterday, they distributed water purifying tablets and cautioned residents about the use of water. Foodstuff is being mobilized. About 200 families are directly affected, he said. Farms have been destroyed, he said. “What we’ve seen…is one sheet of water cutting across a large section of Guyana…one blanket spreading right across that belt”, said the Minister.
Meantime, the Hydrometeorological Service said last evening that figures between July 1 and yesterday, indicate that rainfall ranged between 90.1 mm and 364.9 mm. In the last 48 hours, for inland locations especially along upper Berbice and Demerara areas, meteorological data suggest that rainfall figures ranged from 50.0mm to 100.0mm. “These periods of heavy downpours in watersheds that are already saturated have increased the risk of flash flooding in inland and interiors locations”, said the Ministry of Agriculture in a statement.
The Ministry said that periods of heavy downpours are likely to continue during July. “This coupled with the above normal high tides that are currently prevailing will increase the risk of localised flooding in the coastal zone and in low-lying inland areas, thus residents, farmers and other stakeholders occupying coastal and inland areas are advised to take the necessary actions to reduce the potential of flooding. The highest of these tides and rains are expected during the early morning hours. Therefore, residents are advised to secure all property at risk before retiring in the evenings”, said the Ministry.
It said that earlier yesterday, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) continued its ongoing efforts to support the Region Ten Administration following reports of flash flooding in areas such as Silvertown, First, Second and Third Alley and Poker Street going towards Blueberry Hill, all in Linden. “This was as a result of heavy rains coupled with the high tide which compounded the situation”. The Ministry said that the NDIA immediately deployed an engineer to undertake an assessment of the situation along with the Authority’s Community Drainage and Irrigation Project workers who assisted in the clearing of drains. Water is receding quickly at low tides and presently, the Authority is considering the installation of self acting doors at main drainage outlets to alleviate the intrusion of river water. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to work closely with CDC groups to ensure remote riverain communities’ food production activities are not adversely interrupted, the statement said.
It added that the NDIA will continue to monitor the situation closely and make necessary interventions. All RDCs and NDCs and other local government authorities are again reminded to be alert to ensure all systems are operating at full capacity. Also the Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Officers are deployed to riverain communities to assess the food production situation and provide emergency type advice during this period of heavy rainfall, the statement said. (Additional reporting by Cathy Richards)