Help is on the horizon for residents of Festival City, North Ruimveldt who are plagued with poor drainage in their community, says Mayor Patricia Chase-Green.
The Mayor made the announcement during an interview with this newspaper, as she responded to concerns of flooding in the community. A letter from a resident of the community, published in yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News, highlighted the situation of flooding.
“Over the  years of residence in this area, it is common to experience a flooded street after even a very short period of rainfall. However, the situation has now worsened to the extent that both E.R. Burrowes and Hummingbird Street, Festival City remain under water long after the rains have stopped,” the letter writer, Rawle Edinboro pointed out.
The E.R. Burrowes Street resident noted that the situation over the years has gotten “more severe in the eastern sections of these streets, particularly since some segments of these streets have subsided over the years.”
Chase-Green explained that she is aware of the situation and has expressed her concerns at the level of council, but to holistically address the situation, they would need a multi-agency approach.
However, in the interim, she said that the council is awaiting the release of funds from the Ministry of Communities through the ‘Restoration of Georgetown’ fund, before they can start work in the community to bring relief to residents.
The Mayor noted that she has reached out to small contractors in the constituency and asked for estimates for cleaning the drains and alleys in the community.
“We are awaiting the release of that money to see how we can bring some relief to the residents in the interim while we engage in talks with other stakeholders,” she said, while adding, “very soon when the money is released and the ministry finds favour with those contractors, small works would be done in the drains and alleyways.”
Every constituency under the restoration fund will be awarded $5 million to undertake developmental and infrastructural projects.
The drainage situation, she explained would have been compromised at several levels. Apart from the community being a basin, resulting in the water taking a long time to drain off, the main drainage canals need to be cleared. She pointed out that with the squatters occupying the reserve, they are unable to use an excavator to desilt the canal.
Chase-Green further stated that they have also noted that the interlocking drains also contribute to the poor drainage.
“…Persons would have filled up the alleyways, the drains are filled, and in some cases are very low or very high. Some are even covered by the residents when the residents concreted their yard. There is a host of challenges, but we can’t sit and allow that so we are trying to bring relief,” she stressed.
She further said that while they would be able to use manpower to help clean and clear the drains and the alleys in Festival City and surrounding areas, they would need an excavator to clear the canal, since manpower would only be able to remove the overgrown vegetation.
Some drains, along with culverts in the community will have to be reconstructed to aid in the free flow of accumulated water.
“I am trying to get other agencies on board because the situation is bigger than us. Culverts are expensive and we may not be able to do that now,” she pointed out, and added, “we need help and we have been engaging in talks with the Ministries of Finance, Public Infrastructure and Communities to see how best we can solve this issue.”
Edinboro, in the letter, explained that “…the water level in the eastern section of E.R. Burrowes Street and Hummingbird Street is notably high. In addition to being very unsightly, the stagnant water is mossy and foul smelling.”
This issue the writer said is hazardous to riders of bicycles and motor cycles since they would skid from time to time and sometimes end up falling in the stagnant water. The writer also lamented that they are being made victims of inflation by the taxi services. “Given the persistent flooded streets, taxi services are known to increase their charges once the name Festival City is mentioned,” the writer outlined.
In the letter writer’s view, the situation at hand has serious potential environmental health and safety implications and can be depressing to residents.
Further, it was noted that residents of the community had dispatched a letter outlining their concerns to the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Ministry of Communities and the Georgetown City Council, but almost a year later they were yet to receive any response. “The community has an elected representative for the area on the Georgetown City Council but given our feeling of persistent neglect, we are left to wonder what role this individual plays in community affairs,” Edinboro wrote.
As a result, the resident said he has turned to the media to highlight their plight and called for a relief from their “flooding nightmare.”