Administration should have informed residents well in advance of possible severity of high tides

Dear Editor,

The recent high tides that caused severe flooding and loss of crops, poultry, etc, on the West Coast of Demerara is indeed heartbreaking. Having worked for many years with Drainage and Irrigation and Sea Defences as an overseer on the Essequibo Coast, I am quite familiar with high tides and coastal flooding. At the beginning of each year every overseer and sluice attendant was provided with a Tide Timetable. This little blue book was very informative with regard to the daily movements of tides. Important personnel knew in advance of the date and time of every Spring tide.

Lucrative residences and businesses have taken over the area of land where façade drains should have been. Consequently, the flooding and the destruction at Leonora and other neighbouring estates caused by the Spring tide and the Phagwah full moon were inevitable. What bothers me mostly is not the flooding, but the failure of the responsible personnel to warn residents in the danger zone well in advance to prepare for the high tides  Sandbags should have been made available to the residents free of charge long in advance of the high tides, not after. Residents should have been advised to move all of their perishable goods to higher ground and to relocate to open shelters days before the high tides. When Lawrence Charles, Latchman Singh, Charles Sohan and Malcolm Ali (experienced, dedicated and learned hydraulics engineers) were in charge of the Hydraulics Division, high tides never took us by surprise.  Sluice attendants, rangers and overseers were forewarned and required to be on special alert and to monitor sea sluices and sea and river defences on a 24 hour basis.

Florida experienced hurricane Irma last September and residents were informed long before. Sandbags were provided by townships free of charge to residents, and every sheet of plywood at Home Depot was sold out as residents prepared, boarded up their windows, and moved to open shelters.

It is my view that the administration should take full responsibility for not informing the residents in advance of the potential severity and the possible effects of the recent high tides.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Majeed


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