More rain floods city but residents get quick relief

-Hydromet service says worse weather to come

The dilemma that the city faces at high tide This was the scene at the Ruimveldt koker yesterday morning as rain pounded the city. To the left is the river and to the right is the drainage canal swollen by the rain. (Keno George photo)

Continuous rainfall, which began in the wee hours of yesterday, flooded the commercial and residential districts of the city but the water quickly receded after the tide fell.

The flooding in the central business district of Georgetown was a direct result of the sluice doors being closed due to the high tide.

Chief City Engineer Colvern Venture told Stabroek News that as the tide fell, around 10 yesterday morning, the sluice doors were opened and the water flowed off.

He noted that in the downpour two Fridays ago, city workers were not fortunate to have the water flow off quickly since the downpour occurred after the sluice doors were closed and a spring tide was in effect. Sluice doors were opened until 3pm yesterday afternoon. Most businesses said the floodwater receded between 10.30 am and 12 pm.

An advisory issued by the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Weather Watch Centre, Hydrometeorological Service warned that weather conditions are likely to worsen across Guyana.

It said coastal areas may experience prolonged flooding in poor drainage, low lying and riverine areas.

The Hydrometeorolog-ical Service pointed out that this weather forecast, which will see continuous rainfall until Friday, is due to the development of an upper–level trough and a sub–tropical jet stream.

It said rainfall is expected to be between 40 millimetres (mm) and 80 mm on Wednesday and Friday and in excess of 100 mm on Thursday. The period of normal high tide is expected from Wednesday through to Friday.

All regions, according to the advisory, are likely to experience cloudy to overcast skies. It said the highest rainfall is expected to occur over regions 2 to 5. Regions 1 to 6 can expect these conditions coupled with mostly light to moderate continuous rain and showers with downpours which may become heavy at times, it added. Rainfall is expected to be less intense over all other locations.

Venture told Stabroek News that currently all five of the pumps operated by the city council are working and two mobile pumps were loaned to the council by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to assist with drainage. However, he said that the two pumps from the ministries were not 100% operational and they were working to rectify the issues.

He went on to say that the pumps that were broken were repaired just before the New Year and have been put to work. However, Venture said they have not been able to use the Kitty pump to its capacity due to a sinkhole which has developed in the area. He noted that temporary works were done on the sinkhole but they would only be able to address the situation fully when the rainy season ends.

North and South Ruimveldt

Venture made visits to several affected communities and he identified North and South Ruimveldt as being among the worst affected. He noted that no reports of damage to residential properties have been made, indicating that the flooding was mostly confined to yards.

Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan told Stabroek News in an invited comment that low-lying streets and yards within South Ruimveldt were waterlogged as a result of poor drainage.

Venture explained that they had not been able to do much work in the South Georgetown area since squatters have occupied the reserves that were designed to allow machines to clean the North Ruimveldt canal. “The North Ruimveldt sideline canal, this canals run from back of North to the East and West Front Road, and we have not been able to properly maintain it as a result of encumbrances by squatters. It remains a challenge but we are hoping that we can have more intervention from the central government and have the situation changed,” he said.

Venture also noted that other communities, such as Campbellville, and East and West Ruimveldt, had pockets of water in the streets.

Stabroek News observed areas such as Subryanville, Alberttown, Bourda and the pavements of Regent, King, and Main streets flooded. Persons and vehicles trudging through the floodwater had to ensure they were very careful to avoid stepping into a hidden gutter or potholes.

Central business district

In the business district, many employers and employees arrived at work to find water a few inches below their doors, while a few businesses on Regent and King Streets had to contend with flooding of their premises.

Some businesses had taken precautionary measures after the last flood two weeks ago and placed sand bags at the entrances.

A representative of New Bombay Fashion on King Street told Stabroek News that they had to place the bags in front of the store to prevent water from entering. The man, who did not share his name, said when vehicles drove through the flooded street, the resulting waves would force water into their stores.

Some employees from businesses along King and Regent streets had to be diverted from their routine duties to help bail water from the stores.

It was a similar case inside Bourda Market, where vendors had to take precautions to save their goods.

In the aftermath, vendors, who were not severely affected, were seen mopping up inside their stalls.  Some lamented the frequency of the rainfall and the resulting discomfort they had to endure while plying their trade.

Debbie (only name given), a greens vendor, said when she got to the market she observed the water rising but was quick to note that it receded a few hours after. She stated that she did not suffer any losses but noted that the market floods too frequently and a better drainage system should be in place.

“We had to lift some rice bags so it wouldn’t get damaged because the water was above our ankles but since the last flood we didn’t take chance and leave it on the ground,” said Anil, another vendor, who just gave his first name.

Venture noted that meetings have been held with the sluice and drainage operators and training is being considered to improve the standard of operation on the waterfront. There would also be serious sanctions for those operators who are caught neglecting their duties, he said.

Meanwhile, a press statement issued yesterday afternoon by Town Clerk Royston King said that 70% of the allocated funds to City Engineer’s Department would be used to improve the city’s drainage system.

The release also called on citizens to desist from dumping garbage into the waterways as it often hinders the performance of the drainage pumps.



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