By Lakhram Bhagirat
Somie Persaud and her family is now left scratching their heads to decide how they are going to begin picking up the pieces of their lives.
Somie and her family remigrated from Canada 15 years ago in an effort to invest in a business in Guyana and build their lives a “home”. They worked in Canada for a number of years and it was her husband that decided they should return to Guyana and invest.
She said that her husband wanted to return home to rear cattle, so they packed up their belongings and decided to relocate. When they returned from Canada, the couple took up residence in Mahaicony Creek, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), and began to work to realise their dreams.
They bought cattle and ventured into the business of planting rice as well. Everything was going well until about three months ago when several regions across Guyana experienced record-setting floods.
“Everything that I earned in Canada, I come here and invested and I actually lose everything with this water. We lost 70 acres of rice, all my plants, my ducks, my fowl, I lost everything. I had 70 ducks right now I don’t know how much I have left because they all over the place deh swimming. I don’t know if people catching (and taking them) and well only three fowls out of like 40 remaining. I had like 17 goats and I have like 12 left,” the visibly distraught woman told the Sunday Times recently.
In all the years that she has been living in the Mahaicony Creek, Somie never experienced such devastating flood. In addition, her husband is now forced to stay at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD), with their cattle after the area in which they were being reared is completely underwater.
“We had like 450 head of cattle but we only managed to save 300 and something. We had to take them to Lusignan Road behind the prison because they were dying in the water. So right now, my husband is in Lusignan taking care of them and actually somebody thief one so he got them locked up,” she said.
Water rose as high as four feet in some areas of Somie’s yard and as a result the woman said she picked up an infection that required medical intervention. She, like many of the residents in Mahaicony Creek, is being forced to carry out her daily duties in the floodwaters because she has no other option.
They need to clean, cook, wash, visit their damaged farms and take care of their animals in the floodwaters. The contaminants from dead animals and other debris have caused them to pick up bacterial infections.
In addition to the humans, the animals are also picking up infections and dying off. Somie explained that the veterinarians visited her home to take care of some of her goats but the medication they were sharing out were expired drugs.
“I didn’t give my animals any (of the drugs) because when I read it then I see they were expired…it get the health team that does come in to and when they come they does give you a pack a Panadol, some tablets to help with like if you have diarrhoea and a bottle of Cholorphan,” Somie related.
She said that the coming days will be really tough since the family, like many others, needs all forms of assistance to restart their lives. When asked whether she would consider moving back to Canada, Somie said that it is not an option at this time.
“We buy everything here and we started from scratch. Right now, I’m frustrated and confused because life gets tough in Canada and you got to get a lot of money to start again or you have to go back into labour (working with other people) …well right now I’m like I really can’t think. I don’t know what to say because life was going good without this water. When we get it you lose everything.
“We lost like about over $5 million in losses. While the Government said they gonna help people but I don’t know that is and when. He (President Dr Irfaan Ali) said when the water go down (they will come back) but by the time water go down and he come take a look, people life might go,” she explained.
She said that they need the assistance now. They need cash and equipment to clear their lands out and “build it back up.” Somie is indebted to the bank, millers and agricultural suppliers and she is worried about being able to pay those debts.
When her rice field became flooded, the combine was already there preparing to harvest but they could not do anything on the land. She is also unsure whether they would be able to make the next crop.