Region Nine keeping close eye on flooding – Chairman

-road to Lethem airstrip under threat

The flooded area in deep South Rupununi yesterday. (DPI photo)

The Region Nine  Democratic Council (RDC) is closely monitoring flooding in the area as the water levels continue to rise and at least two villages in the south to central Rupununi remain cut off, says Brian Allicock, Regional Chairman.

Allicock told Stabroek News last evening that access to Karasabai in the South Pakaraimas and Aishalton in the Rupununi savannahs has been cut off. He noted that the communities can only be accessed by boats, All-Terrain Vehicles, using a trail behind Santa Fe or using a shuttle service through Brazil.

 “The water keeps coming in… rushing off from the mountain… it is raining and the rivers are overflowing. We are monitoring the situation very closely,” Allicock said.

He noted that the access road to the Lethem airstrip at the moment is under threat as floodwaters are two to three feet away from covering the road.

As part of the region’s monitoring system, the chairman said that they are continuously checking Brazilian weather reports for updates. At the same time, he said that they are communicating frequently with representatives of communities that are under threat.

The regional chairman said that they have already opened shelters and identified alternative buildings to house families once the need arises. He stated that a “tractor and pick up vehicle is on standby ready to move families if the situation worsens.”

“We are monitoring and as water comes in we move them, some move to higher grounds with relatives or some to shelters. We are monitoring some people so we are waiting for them to give us the go ahead to move them,” he stressed further.

A family residing in the Tabatinga area in Lethem had to be relocated as a direct result of the rising water levels.

Allicock last night explained that while they are hoping for the water to begin receding, they have to remain vigilant and fear the worse as the rain continues.

“Why we are getting this back up is because the river is overflowing. The Rio Negro is flowing into Rio Branco River and that is flowing into the Takutu and Ireng Rivers… That is why we are having a push-back of water into the township and other communities,” he explained.

The Chairman added that they are also monitoring the farms but to date they have not received any news of flooding.

“It hasn’t gotten to that stage as yet, but we are monitoring. The last time the farms near the rivers had five to six feet of water and now we have to monitor,” Allicock said.

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) yesterday  visited the affected communities in in the Karasabai Sub-District and Aishalton to assess the damage and formulate a possible remedy.

 

Allicock added that a regional team was dispatched to the eroding site along the Lethem-Shulinab Road and he has told the Regional Executive Officer to engage a contractor to execute emergency works.

He noted that the region does not have the equipment to mobilise and execute the works needed to be done.

At present only light vehicles are allowed to travel across the makeshift bridge of two planks placed over the eroded section of the road.

The chairman in a previous news item had pointed out that though an alternative route had been identified between the communities of Katoonarib and Karaudarnau, commuters have reported that the journey via that option has proven to be much more time consuming.

One of the main access bridges to the Deep South Rupununi remains inundated and the situation has left some people stranded.

With the heavy rains and areas flooded, cell service fluctuates preventing residents from being able to communicate effectively, the chairman said.

“Sometimes we call and call and call and you get voicemail, we don’t know what the cause of that is directly but when the weather is bad this is what we face,” he stressed.

The CDC has encouraged residents to stockpile food, water and medical supplies, as well as household items.

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