Close to 20 farms in Masakenari, a Wai Wai village in the deep south of Guyana, have been inundated as floods continue to take a toll on communities in Central and South Rupununi, in Region Nine.
Regional Vice-Chairman Karl Singh yesterday said that the farms in Masakenari are under close to three feet of water. He noted that the homes of the Wai Wai families in the community are unaffected, since they are located on a hill.
Singh, who did not state if any other farming community in the region is affected, told Stabroek News that three shelters have been opened to accommodate the families affected by flooding. Fifty-eight families in the region have been relocated to the shelters, while others have relocated to relatives on higher ground, he noted.
Shelters have been opened at Culvert City Primary School, Tabatinga Community Centre Ground and the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem.
With recent heavy rainfall and the overflowing rivers in the region, communities have been grappling with flooding, with villages in the South Pakaraimas and the Deep South Rupununi cut off.
At present, Junior Public Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson is in the region conducting an assessment with a team.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who has the responsibility for the Civil Defence Com-mission (CDC), is scheduled to visit the flood-affected region today to get a firsthand look at the situation.
As the water rose overnight on Wednesday, the region was forced to suspend classes at schools, which are being used as shelters for affected families.
Harmon, at a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday at the Ministry of the Presidency, said “the water levels in the rivers and creeks are rising rapidly across the region… it had increased by 5ft between 05.00 hrs and 11.00 hrs on Wednesday.”
The minister explained that as a result of the rising water, a regional operation centre was activated and five schools in the Central Rupununi district were closed.
A release from the Education Ministry yesterday morning announced that the St. Ignatius Primary, St. Ignatius Secondary, Arapaima Primary, Arapaima Nursery and Culvert City Nursery schools have been closed.
“This recommendation was [made] because the schools will have to be used as shelters and access to the St. Ignatius Primary School was inundated and challenging to traverse,” the minister indicated, while stating that the Ministry of Education approved the temporary closure of the schools.
Further, Harmon disclosed that the community radio stations are being used to update families on the developments of the flooding.
Harmon said the Regional Democratic Council has indicated that it can handle the current situation.
“The CDC is in constant contact with the region and has so far identified the needs of the communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Singh pointed out that communities, such as Shulinab, Aishalton, Karasabai, remain heavily affected by the flooding. Singh said while the situation is not alarming, they have to take the precautions as it can change at any point. An area of concern, he pointed out, is the GWI water treatment plant. He said that the water is slowly approaching the treatment plant and there are some fears of contamination. “We have families with pit latrines and with flood the can overflow, so we have to be prepared and alert… But we are working with GWI and they are conducting contamination tests regularly,” he added.
The water levels in the Central Rupununi district, he said, remain the same and he pointed out that access roads have been covered with water. He disclosed that the access road to the Lethem airstrip is also under water.
In addition, Singh explained that fuel supply remains low in the town due to the deplorable state of the Linden-Lethem trail.
“We are not getting the fuel that we need. The trail is bad and the trucks are not coming. One came yesterday (Wednesday) and supplied the Takutu Gas Station. By time this morning they were sold out. Another gas station got today and they can be out at any point,” he related.