Temporary repairs to a damaged koker at Westbury, Essequibo Coast averted what could have been major flooding during yesterday’s spring tide.
Residents were fearful that if nothing was done, the entire village would have been severely flooded but regional engineer Jared Lawrie led a team to effect temporary repairs. “The door of the koker break away so we are just trying to stop the water from coming in. There is a fault with the groove so we have to fix that, then the door has to be repaired but for now this is all we can do. We have to come back tomorrow when the tide is low to make the planks more secure. By tomorrow, all other works will be completed,” he explained to Stabroek News yesterday.
Last month, as a result of the spring tide, the water from the Atlantic Ocean started to overtop the sea defence dam. Residents had expressed concern that the village would be flooded and major losses would be suffered if the koker was not fixed.
Resident, Audrey Garraway related that when the koker door first broke, residents started to air their concerns with regional authorities. “When the door broke away first, I had called the Regional Executive Officer and he said that works would be done. They did come but we were told that it’s a technical piece of work so everything wasn’t done at the time. Since this koker was built it never really function. Now the concrete in the lower part of the koker is breached and something has to be done urgently to control the water that comes in from the ocean. If a major flood is to occur, our yards will be under water,” she said.
When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday, water was seen running rapidly from the sea into a nearby canal. Lawrie and several other persons were working feverishly against the tide to put planks of wood in the damaged koker to prevent the water from entering from the sea.
Another resident, Sheron Johnson, said a massive flood will occur if something is not done as soon as possible to fix the broken koker door.
“We are looking into the issue of the koker in Westbury. There is nothing that was really done on the koker even though we complained about it. Last month I was home and a resident came and say I must come out so when I come out, I saw the whole koker door break away. We called the REO and they came out and look around and say they will look after it as (an) emergency but nothing was done. Day before yesterday, the people from the region came and plank down the boards but the force of the water lashing against the boards is moving them away. Today (yesterday) would be the highest tide and if nothing is done the entire village will be flooded. All the houses are low and most persons have livestock and kitchen gardens that can be destroyed,” she said.
Another resident Shenella Marks recounted that she was at home when her nephew called her and told her about the breakage of the koker door. “Friday around 2:30pm my nephew come and say that we will die so I asked why. He said the koker barely hanging on. I come out here and I called for my aunt and other community members and the koker door was destroyed,” she said.
“Yesterday the place was flooded because of the spring tide and the high water. Our reason for informing the media is because we are afraid what will happen to this village if nothing is done to the koker door. This water isn’t coming in from a river or a trench. The water is coming from the Atlantic Ocean and obviously it will cause major problems. I can say that I’m happy that Jared (the engineer) came. He has saved us and we as residents are grateful,” Marks asserted.
Stabroek News was told that the spring tide yesterday afternoon was expected to be the highest at approximately 3.4 meters. Westbury residents are hoping that urgent action will be taken to permanently fix the koker.