Quick disaster response saves Christmas Day festivities for Wakenaam residents

—as high tides rip through koker door, flooding yards

The new koker door that was constructed and installed on Tuesday morning

Quick action by the Wakenaam Neighbour-hood Democratic Council (NDC) in Region Three on Tuesday morning, saved residents from Maria’s Pleasure from having a wet Christmas, after a sluice door gave out to the high tide.

On Tuesday morning, around 8 am, over 75 residents of the small community were greeted by floodwater in their yards. The water had rushed into the drainage canals after a faulty koker door had given in to the constant pounding of the high tide.

The extremely strong waves ripped through the door, sending the waters into the drainage canals. Some residents’ yards experienced floodwaters as high as 12 inches, while the majority of them were inundated with about six to eight inches.

Region Executive Officer Denis Jaikarran (left) distributing cleaning hampers to one of the residents of Maria’s Pleasure on Tuesday.

According to Information Officer of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Three, Ganesh Mahipaul, the NDC, the Regional Democratic Council, and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC)’s Disaster Risk Management unit, responded immediately to the situation. Regional Executive Officer of Region 3, Denis Jaikarran, was also dispatched to the island to offer his support. The door was fixed within hours, resulting in the water receding completely shortly after.

From initial investigations, it was discovered that 45 homes, representing approximately 75 residents, were affected by the floodwaters. Notably, despite the height of the water which settled in the yards of some residents, the water was unable to get into anyone’s home. As a result, no furniture or home appliances were damaged.

“Roughly 75 persons were affected but not in any sense where there was any loss of livestock because it came in due to the high tide and the water fell out quickly,” Mahipaul explained.

He noted that after the door broke, the NDC responded immediately, and work to replace the koker door started right away. The material was procured and transported to the location and a private contractor was hired. The door was repaired within hours.

As a result, around midday, residents were able to enjoy Christmas Day with little to no inconvenience, except for having to clean their yards again.

“The REO was on the island himself and they distributed about 50 cleaning hampers to 50 homes. There was also a medical team on the island to ensure that there was no outbreak of waterborne diseases since most of the residents rely on pit latrines. The island also has a system with GWI [Guyana Water Inc.] where water services is provided on a spell basis. The side that had flooding on Tuesday morning was not set to have water but nonetheless, [Managing Director] Dr. Richard Van West-Charles gave the instruction to ensure that systems are in place so the residents can clean up their yards,” Mahipaul explained.

He also noted that the CDC, together with the RDC, is still closely monitoring the situation and related that after the tide receded and rose again, the repaired koker door was functioning as normal.

He further pointed out that the RDC made checks again yesterday within the community and noted that normalcy had returned.

Prior to the koker door giving way to the high tide, Stabroek News was told that the sluice attendant had made multiple complaints about the condition of the door and had warned the NDC but no actions were taken.

In September of this year, the residents of Golden Fleece, Essequibo Coast, were also threatened by floods after one of the koker doors was blown out due to the high tide. The attendant had also explained that complaints were made about the condition of the koker but nothing was done until there was a breach.

“This door mussy deh for like two years and two board done gone from it and is like it got to break for it to get a new one. Any hard breeze blow and it done, you know. Is just because them bricks and trees deh around, that’s why it don’t feel the pressure but it gon’ happen if they don’t fix it,” one attendant had related.

“People have to come and inspect these things and ensure that they are using proper wood to make the doors and make sure the doors them perfect but nobody don’t come and do that. When they done build people does only come and check to see if the koker men doing their job but people don’t even come and check if the contractor use the right wood,” the man explained, while arguing that there should be a strict routine to repair the koker doors and “they shouldn’t just come and fix it when it bruk up.”

A year earlier, in September 2017, a koker door at Meten-Meer-Zorg had also caved in due to high tides.


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