…as water continues to recede
By Murtland Haley
Residents of Mahdia in Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight) are currently recovering from a major flash flood which affected the community between Thursday and Friday.
Government and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) are currently monitoring the conditions in the event that the situation gets worse.
This was disclosed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon yesterday during the Post Cabinet Press Briefing held at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Harmon said that the situation in Mahdia is currently being looked at. He said that there is a national watch on weather and other emergencies which is being conducted through the CDC.
“So the Civil Defence Commission is actually looking at that and they will give me a situation report and their reaction to it.”
The Minister said that he is waiting to see what information comes out of CDC’s assessment of the situation and future action will be based on that. He added that the CDC has pre-positioned supplies stored at some of the flood-affected areas around Guyana and Mahdia is one such location, including Orinduik.
He said that prior to the flooding, the CDC and the Guyana People’s Militia would have engaged in first responder training.
“That is, persons who are resident in these communities are provided with training in first response, first aid and assistance to persons affected by flooding or fire or any such damage, so that they can actually be on the ground and they can respond very quickly, and all that is needed thereafter would be for supplies to be brought to the affected communities.”
Speaking with Regional Chairman of Region Eight, Bonaventure Fredericks, Kaieteur News was told that contrary to a report by the Department of Public Information/Government Information Agency (DPI/GINA) that 500 homes have been affected; approximately eight homes have been seriously affected by the flood waters.
Fredericks said that these homes are located at the bottom section of the valley. He said that inclusive of these homes, a number of mechanic shops were inundated with water, causing some tools and equipment to be washed away.
The Regional Chairman said that as of yesterday the situation is improving, as the excess water is moving off the land.
A resident of Mahdia, Daniel Fraser, explained to this publication that one of the reasons for the flooding is that for a number of years the creeks have not been cleared and desilted by the regional administration.
He said that it has reached a point whereby the beds of the creeks are almost at the level of the land which reduces the volume capacity of the waterways to absorb rain over a prolonged period. He said that it has been over 30 years since proper drainage and irrigation works have been done in the community.
According to Fraser, the water easily breaches the rim of the creeks and floods the land, cutting off transportation along the Potaro Road. He said that in May, the North Pakaraimas were flooded, but the water has now risen to a higher level in the Mahdia community.
Making things worse, Fraser said that when it rains excessively, the ponds in the mining areas are filled and miners are forced to cut their ponds to allow the water to run off. He said that this water then flows into Mahdia and then into Potaro.
He said that this is a win or lose situation for miners, since they have no choice but to get rid of the water, as holding it in their ponds can cause damage to their operations. One benefit, though, to the miners, is that getting rid of the water helps to flush out their ponds.
Meanwhile, General of the CDC, Colonel (retired) Chabilall Ramsarup has been quoted in a government statement as saying that the agency will remain in contact with officials in the region to monitor the activities so that they can respond immediately if the need presents itself.
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