Relief supplies shuttled to Lethem flood victims

Members of the Guyana Defence Force assisting flood-affected residents in Lethem and surrounding areas. The army has been working with the region by providing a boat shuttle service for residents from 6 am to 6 pm daily. (GDF Photo)

Relief supplies were yesterday shuttled to Lethem for those affected by recent severe flooding in the region.

Acting Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, in an invited comment, said the Region Nine Regional Democratic Council (RDC) has the situation under control and is coordinating the entire response with the regional emergency operating systems which have been put in place.

Relief supplies from the CDC, which include water purification tablets, collapsible bottles, detergents and cleaning supplies, beddings and blankets, among other materials, were also sent to Lethem yesterday afternoon for the residents affected by the flooding, while a ministerial team led by Minister of State Joseph Harmon visited to do a firsthand assessment of the situation.

An aerial shot showing the elevated water levels in and around Lethem, which has caused the displacement of 59 persons over the past few days. (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

Regarding the water levels, Craig said that the levels fluctuate depending on rainfall in Brazil, since the rains usually result in the cresting of the Takutu and Ireng rivers, which leads to flooding in the region.

The Guyana Defence Force has been working with the RDC to provide support through a boat shuttle service for residents from 6 am to 6 pm every day. 

Stabroek News understands that though the water has started to recede, some 59 persons continue to be accommodated at shelters. (Stabroek News had erroneously reported that 58 families were being accommodated at the shelters.)

Vice-Chairman of the Region, Karl Singh yesterday confirmed that water levels had dropped but noted that several villages in the South Rupununi were still cut off from the rest of the region as a result of the flooding.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Presidency, in a press statement issued last night, said that Harmon expressed satisfaction with how the situation was being handled by the regional administration, saying there had been an improvement over the response from two years ago when similar flooding had occurred. 

 “It is important to us that we can respond to the needs of our citizens.  I want to say that in a situation like this, we don’t have administration and others, we have one administration and so the resources of the administration must be put to the use of the people… if we have to take meals out to the people, we have to do so. When we speak about administration in these circumstances, we are talking about all of the resources of the region being applied to that situation. Every Government department must chip in with their resources so that the citizens are not affected in a major way. I am asking that we coordinate and cooperate where the resources of the region are concerned. This is not a normal situation and, therefore, we have to act a little bit unusual. What that ‘unusualness’ means is that we have to pool our resources for the benefit of the people,” Harmon added.

He also noted that though the current weather patterns in the region and in Brazil will see the water rising and receding at frequent intervals, with a coordinated approach, some semblance of order can exist.

“I visited one of the shelters and I am satisfied that the persons who have been placed

A flooded road in Lethem yesterday. (Ministry of the Presidency Photo)

there are comfortable.  I am satisfied also that the police have a plan for the security of the residences of those persons who are in shelters and they are doing active patrolling. I am satisfied that the doctor who is here has indicated that he has sufficient amount of medical supplies and if there is a need for more, he is in touch with the officer who is responsible for Material Management at the Ministry of Public Health. I am satisfied that the Environmental Officer and the Public Health Officer have done visits and they have given reports with respect to their responsibility.  So all of that shows a coordinated effort,” Harmon said.

Stabroek News had reported that water levels had risen to an estimated 5 feet on Wednesday, after heavy rainfall and the overflowing of the Takutu and Ireng rivers, causing sections of Lethem and its immediate environs to be inundated.


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