Residents of Mahaicony Creek are relieved that floodwater has started to recede but they are concerned that they are still not able to commence farming and that they are “not getting help from anywhere.”
They told Stabroek News yesterday that the land is soggy and they are afraid that by the time it dries out and they are ready to farm, “the May/June rain would catch up with us again.”
In the case of Mahaica Creek, residents said the water has receded by about one foot and they still have to wait a long time before they can start farming again.
The residents also lamented that they have almost exhausted their savings and were worried about where they would get their next income.
Residents of both creeks suffered losses to their rice, cash crops and livestock and were not finding employment.
When the heavy downpours commenced last month, the water level rose and this was compounded by the release of water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Mahaica Creek. This discharge of water was to prevent any overtopping or undermining of the EDWC.
Bholanauth Deolall, chairman of the Pine Ground/First Savannah Farmers’ Association in Mahaicony Creek told this newspaper that residents are “glad for any help they can get right now.”
He pointed out that the association is aware of the plight and suffering of the residents and distributed 60 hampers to them.
These, he said were purchased at a cost of $150,000 with proceeds from members’ monthly subscription fee of $200 and benefitted persons who reside within the areas of Pine Ground and First Savannah.
Deolall, of Gordon Table said, apart from that, residents got no other help although members of an organization went into the creek to assess the situation.
He pointed out that residents had sought the help of the organization but by the time they visited the water had already started to recede.
As a result, the members of the association concluded that the residents do not need any help although they have lost their livelihood.
He said residents have to “go to the market on the road to buy greens,” stressing that they never experienced a shortage to that extent. “The only thing we are getting right now is fish.”
The Agriculture Ministry had said that aid will be provided as soon as its number one priority of draining the lands is completed.
But Deolall said they are not looking for aid in the form of “planting materials and insecticides; that cannot compensate us for the hundreds and thousands of dollars spent.”
The residents of Mahaica Creek said too that they were “waiting to see what assistance they get from government.”
In the meantime, they were “trying with whatever little we have… We are looking for immediate assistance so we can keep going with our farming.”
They said too that they want the government to provide long-term assistance like clearing the canals so that their losses would be reduced.
When this newspaper contacted Regional Chairman, Bindrabhan Bisnauth concerning compensation for the residents he responded that he was unable to make any commitment [about what form it would take] since that has to come from higher authorities.
He assured though that “there is something in the pipeline but we would have to wait until the budget is passed.”
Bisnauth said too that, “From the regional level we would organize community [cluster] meetings… to discuss the way forward.”
The meetings would be based on what help the region can provide including raising a specific dam or empoldering a certain area.
Meanwhile, the rice farmers said the water is still very high on the land “at the back of the embankment” and that the three tubes that government installed are not adequate to drain the water.
According to them, “When the bank was overriding and the water was going into rice fields, we made several complaints, but no machine was sent to block it in time and everybody lost rice.”
They said too that the high water from the rice field is being drained from cuts along the dam, caused from the flooding.
“Now,” they said, “government sending the machine to block the water but we stopping them because we need the water to recede.”