Four days after the devastating floods caused by excessively high spring tides, residents are still coming to grips with millions of dollars in losses. Only upon a closer examination can someone comprehend the severity of the damages.
Collectively, many of the residents from various villages on the East Bank Demerara (EBD) and West Bank Demerara, admitted to being caught off guard by the abrupt high tides and overtopping that recently occurred. The hardest hit villages were Craig, Diamond, Herstelling on the EBD and Sisters Village on the West Bank.
According to a poultry farmer, Zameer Isuf, of Friendship, East Bank Demerara, there was heavy overtopping that caused him to lose all his poultry. The poultry farmer, according to his neighbours, was constructing a higher concrete structure around his chicken pen.
“I have been living here for 20 plus years and I never see something like this happen before…The tide is expected to be higher in October, since it is the highest tide of the year”.
Another businessman in Friendship, Francis Correia, said that the water was more than two feet high and everyone in the area was severely affected financially.
Correia said that in 2005 when there was the previous flood, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority sent a dragline to clear the outfall in Friendship. However, while doing so the mangrove growth and other protective barriers were destroyed, causing rapid erosion of the soil and eventually what was previously experienced by the overtopping, he said.
Sand bags were placed at the spot in Friendship that was eroded for the past two years, Correia said. In 2008 after the dam tore away, he lost two generators and other electrical equipment and the sluice was eventually damaged. However, the representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture promised a solution, but nothing proper was done to date. “They only doing patch work all the time”.
The businessman further said that two weeks ago an excavator was stuck in the trench for five days in a track leading to the sea dam at Friendship. “Two excavators come and pull it out, and up to now they have not come back…the track the excavator used to come out cut a deep impression and water was coming through there, so that caused more overtopping.”
Explaining that persons are given the royal run around when making enquiries, Correia said, “When you visit the NDC, there is always an excuse, when you ask to see the overseer, they say you have to see the chairman. When you want to see him he is never around.”
Correia disclosed that he has been a businessman since 1966 and since then he has lost millions due to floods.
Gaitree Gilgous, a businesswoman in Friendship said that the recent high tides caused her to lose her freezer and other items due to the abrupt high tides that cause suffering for everyone that was affected. While another businesswoman in Herstelling, R. Veerasammy, said that her freezer, generator, pools table, chair set, and other items were severely damaged. “We had at least two feet of water that had affected us…Thursday night, four in the morning, everything was under water…It closed our business also, whoever was close to the sea defense suffered”.
A tailor in Sisters Village on the West Bank Demerara, Allan Mohabir, said he lost approximately one million dollars due to the flooding. “I lost my tailoring machines and materials that were on the ground… I lost my washing machines, stabilisers, and other electrical appliances.”
Another resident in Sisters village said that she has lost all her electronic appliances. “I have been living here for almost 15 years and I have never seen water so high in my house, almost four feet high.”
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Hydrometeorological Service previously warned that parts of Guyana, especially Regions 1-7, are likely to see periods of heavy rainfall coupled with thundershowers, in addition to garbage pileup, the destruction of sea dams, facades and squatting were said to have compounded the situation.
According to Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, there has been difficulty in getting equipment in to some area, especially on the East Bank Demerara where some homes were built illegally on the river embankment.
Addressing the squatting, Persaud noted that arguments of not having land for a home can no longer be used especially with Government programmes with house lots. But squatting just did not happen overnight. These must have been done with the knowledge of the local authorities.
On a short term, government will continue to shore up embankments and dams, the Minister assured.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, in a statement previously, said that its National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has mobilised and deployed equipment and engineers to support the Sea Defence Unit of the Ministry of Public Works and other local government bodies to deal with overtopping of river banks and sea defence structures.
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