While empathising with flood-affected residents, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has labelled the forewarning mechanism at the Hydrometeorological Office as “unsatisfactory”.
Nagamootoo said that the Hydrometeorological Service is not yet able to adequately provide accurate forecasts to forewarn citizens of the likelihood and possibility of flooding.
The Prime Minister further stated that the service’s forecast of “scattered showers” last evening and “occasional showers” early this morning, were misleading and left citizens without accurate information allowing them to take the necessary precautions and allowing agencies to act pre-emptively.
He recalled that this situation of the HydroMet Office not forewarning citizens of flooding has existed for several years, and most recently there were episodes in December 2014 and June 2015.
“Floods cause economic dislocation, damage and losses and the HydroMet Office cannot afford to be casual about these matters,” a release from his office quoted him as saying.
“Many persons are affected at this time just before Christmas and I ask residents to remain patient and cooperative with the authorities so that relief can be had as quickly as possible even as the water recedes slower than usual, given the large volume of water which has accumulated and is compounded by the neap tide,”
Nagamootoo commended the work of Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, who visited several sluices and pumping sites with teams of technical experts to assess the situation and take remedial action.
He also commended the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority for the works done over the past year and a half to ensure minimal flooding during and after periods of heavy rainfall.
He noted that there were no significant incidents of flooding in Georgetown or the coastland over the past year until yesterday.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure provided sandbags free of cost to flood-affected residents and businesses at the Kitty Pump Station. Citizens were asked to provide their own transportation.
Meanwhile, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that the Government is taking every step to ensure that there is minimum loss or damage to property.
“The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Ministry of Communities and the Mayor and City Council have put measures in place to ensure that as soon as the tide changes the water will be drained off of the land within a reasonable timeframe,” Minister Harmon said.
The Minister added that all pumps and sluices are operable and that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC)’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in other parts of the country and is monitoring the situation.
Colonel (retd) Chabilall Ramsarup, Director General of the CDC, said that his officers are currently on the ground gathering information from all the affected regions and they are monitoring the situation. He also said that some communities in West Berbice are experiencing flooding and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has dispatched two excavators to bring relief to those areas.
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