Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green, said today that there had been 5.5 inches of rainfall over a 24-hour period and this is unusual under any circumstances.
“I received several calls from persons indicating that there has been an accumulation of water in certain parts of the city. As a result, I visited the city, all the pumps, today, with the engineer and discovered that some of the pumps are working and three are not functional,” he stated.
According to Green, the pumps at Forestry, Lamaha Street and Sussex Street are not in a working condition, but the one located at Lamaha Street is expected to be fixed within 12 hours.
He pointed out that the double door sluice at Ruimveldt is working, along with the Liliendaal and Kitty pumps, which he said are the two big ones that drain water from most of north Georgetown.
“Our pumps at Kitty and Liliendaal are working and they complement the ten channels that we have and between 10 and 11 o’ clock, the gate to all ten of our channels have been opened. They’re all now open and if there is no further rainfall and we can remove all the blockages, we will get relief within 36-48 hours and be back to normal,” he said.
According to Green, despite the council’s efforts to clear garbage, there are some areas that would experience more severe flooding, because of residents’ tendency to litter.
When asked why the pumps were not tested and prepared for the rainfall, the Mayor said the problems were mechanical in nature and the problems arose with no warning. “There are mechanical things that go bad without predictions especially with shortage of mechanical staff and money. These things happen without notice,” he said.
When directly asked if the pumps suddenly stopped working, the Mayor responded in the affirmative, adding that these pumps should be replaced every four years but because of financial shortcomings, the Mayor and City Council has been unable to do this. The current pumps, he said, have been in use for the past 7 to 10 years, though he could not be certain.
Green explained that the system is designed to drain one inch of water in 24 hours and though another with higher capacity can be designed, it will be very expensive.
“We can design a system based on the elements you have and what is considered normal conditions. Yes, we could design a system that will drain all the rainfall but that would be extremely costly and will also encourage an indisciplined society. If people don’t litter, they will not block canals… even in rich societies it is not done,” he said.
Also, Green said, he still hopes government will be persuaded to have the Guyana Power & Light install an auxiliary supply to the Liliendaal Pumping Station since power outages cause a problem as the pumps are electrically driven.
When questioned about the predicted rainfall, the Mayor said the Hydromet Office is incapable of accurately providing such information although it has the necessary equipment. But said this was because of changing weather patterns worldwide.