Heavy rainfall coupled with a spring tide inundated large sections of Georgetown yesterday, leaving many businesses bailing water, but this failed to deter consumers, who flooded the streets to get their Christmas shopping done.
The rain started around 3 am and continued non-stop—alternating between downpours and showers—until around 2 pm when it subsided into light drizzles. However, most of Georgetown was flooded, bringing memories of the 2005 Great Flood.
“I don’t even know how it happened to be honest. I don’t even remember the rain falling until I wake up this morning,” Joseph (only name given) from Alexander Village told Stabroek News yesterday. The man related that it wasn’t until he awakened around 8 am that he realized there had been such heavy rainfall that flooded his yard. “This is how it had happened in 2005 when it had that big flood. Is during the night the rain fall and when you wake up the whole yard and them bottom house were flood. My yard don’t flood normally and even throughout the whole year when they had couple floods it didn’t flood up and it flood now,” the man added.
The entire Alexander Village, from the First to Fourth streets, was heavily flooded. Yards on both sides of the road were completely covered in water.
Travelling north into Albouystown and Charlestown revealed a more detailed picture of the magnitude of impact that the rainfall had on the city. Streets such as: Hunter, James, Barr, Hogg, Sussex, Drysdale, Evans, Hill and the surrounding areas were completely covered. The floodwater was at such a high level that persons had to block the entrances of some of the roads in order to prevent vehicles from pushing more water into their bottom flats.
“These drivers don’t care one thing. They does just drive through the area and send the water rippling into people yard all de time so we didn’t have a choice and had to block it up,” George Willis from Albouystown told Stabroek News. The man echoed that the flood came as a surprise since the heavy rainfall came while everyone was sleeping. “Nobody coulda plan for it or anything. You wake up and water in your house and you just gotto live with that,” the man added.
Other residents related that all of their Christmas cleaning was in vain since their houses were flooded with dirty water.
“We spend whole week cleaning and doing this and that and then this rain and flood just come and knock we back two steps. But I guess nobody can control the weather so we just gotto bear it out,” Charlene Smith a resident of Albouystown related. She said that while her bottom flat was flooded she only suffered minor damage.
“All we waiting now is for it to go down and hope that the rain don’t fall and that the drainage system work properly,” she added.
When Stabroek News ventured through the city, almost all of the roads and sidewalks were completely flooded. Yards were completely inundated and the water kept on rising as the rain kept on pouring. Around 11 am, the central business district was a sea of water making it hard to distinguish between trenches and roads.
Persons trudging through the floodwater had to ensure they were very careful and to not step into a hidden gutter or pothole. George, King, Wellington, sections of Croal, Leopold, sections of Hadfield, Robb, Regent and other streets were heavily flooded.
However, the flood did not stop persons from partaking in their annual Christmas shopping as the city was also flooded with persons braving the deluge to shop. Heavy traffic also made it extremely difficult to pass through Georgetown. One vendor, used the flood to his advantage as he stood in the middle of Regent and King streets, armed with his umbrella, with a number of long boots. “Long boots! Come get your long boots!” he shouted as he battled the intermittent rainfall. To his surprise, he was flocked by a number of local and foreign shoppers who wanted additional protection from the rain.
Armed with their heavy bags of purchased goodies they marched through the water. Those who didn’t want to deal with the river on the pavement took to walking in the middle of the road slowing the lanes of traffic and causing even more congestion in the already busy town.
While one would expect business to decrease drastically because of the water, one vendor on Regent Street explained that even though his area was completely flooded, he still made a significant amount of sales for the day.
“What we gonna do? We can’t stay home. They got nuff things that I still got to buy and this rain can’t stop the shopping. Is not like we don’t expect rainfall around Christmas time but this is nuff,” one of the busy shoppers, James Dunbar, pointed out as he hustled across Regent Street.
Employees of some of the businesses along King and Regent streets were forced to abandon their normal duties to bail water from their stores. However, they related that they had been getting a decent amount of customers throughout the day.
In wards such as Queenstown, Alberttown and Kitty there was also a significant amount of floodwater. In Alberttown, First, Second, Third and Fourth streets were all heavily flooded. Parts of the East Coast also suffered from the heavy rains. Yards were flooded in communities such as Industry, Ogle, and Mon Repos.
A team from the City Council, inclusive of Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, Town Clerk Royston King, and Chief City Engineer Colvern Venture visited businesses and vendors who were affected. Chase-Green related that she wanted to witness firsthand what was happening on the ground so that when the council and engineers met she would be able to relate what she saw and make suggestions.
Also visiting the sodden business district was Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, who walked along Regent and other streets city assessing the amount of damage caused by the flash flood.
When Chase-Green and her team strolled through Bourda Market, someone shouted “Wow, finally the government and opposition working together and coming to visit us.”
While the water lingered for about nine hours in the city, it started to recede around 4 pm when the sluices were opened and the rain significantly decreased. It had dropped further by press time last night.
Chase-Green also stated that there wasn’t much the city could have done to prevent the flood since it was heavy rainfall coupled with a spring tide. Because of the spring tide, the sluice doors could not be opened to let the water out and only the pumps could’ve helped.
Chase-Green also contended that it was the first time that the water was receding at such a fast rate and said this was due to the cleaning that was being done by the council over the past year.