Berbice flooded by heavy rainfall

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…Hope Canal saves Mahaica/Mahaicony farmers

A deluge which started on Thursday afternoon and continued until Friday morning has left residential areas along the 85-mile length of Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) inundated with more than 12 inches of rainfall.

One of the shopping areas in New Amsterdam

Farms in backland communities have also been adversely affected, and some schools in the region were closed as a result of the rainfall.

New Amsterdam, in the heart of the region, saw businesses in the main shopping area flooded and business persons pointing accusing fingers at the Mayor and Town Council for not doing enough to prevent flooding from being so extensive.

Some of the areas hardest hit were Numbers 47, 51, 52 and 54 villages on the Corentyne Coast, along with Black Bush Polder. Farmers on the East Bank of Berbice were frustrated at their cash crops being endangered by the flood waters, and a canal which should have been dug earlier this week remains blocked.

The regional administration, having met with farmers, decided to employ a contractor to excavate the blocked canal with three machines. However, this publication was informed that the person reportedly did not have the requisite equipment and subcontracted the job which resulted in only one machine being used.

One farmer, Carlos Chrisom, said the Lighttown Crown Canal is blocked, and this is preventing water from draining out of the backlands. He noted that apart from Thursday night’s rain, farmers at Lighttown have been suffering for some time, thus the meeting was arranged with the regional administration.

A parking spot at the Berbice High Court

According to one resident, Mohan Sookoo of Juditcum, the flooding in that village is due to silting of the canal.

Meanwhile, residents in East Canje were under several inches of water up to late Friday night. Regional Chairman David Armogan, who visited several of the flood-hit areas, explained that the regional administration is not able to get the services of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), which in the past assisted with drainage and irrigation whenever there was heavy rainfall.

He explained that villages such as Canefield are low-lying and hence would be the first to flood.

He noted that several pumps have been put into operation at villages along the Corentyne Coast. He explained that during Friday morning, the regional administration was depending on gravity drainage, but as the tide rose and sluices were closed by midday, pumps were put into operation.

“We are hoping that, with no more rain, places like the Black Bush Polder will be drained in another day or two. The thing is (that) once you get that intensity of rainfall, it becomes difficult to get all of the water off the land within four hours. We are only allowed three to four hours of gravity drainage, because of the tide… Maybe for the twenty-four-hour period, you will get about eight hours gravity drainage,” he explained.

At New Forest in East Canje, more than 200 acres of rice are under threat. According to Mahace Rupert, the rice is about two weeks old, and will be destroyed if the water is not removed shortly. He said there is no drainage to allow the water to get into the Canje River. However, he noted that it was the farmers who benefit from the infrastructure, but he said he was still pleading with the regional administration to assist.

Meanwhile, in Region Five, a similar situation existed on Thursday night. Rainfall, punctuated with lightning and thunder, resulted in flooding of both residential and farming areas.

Among the hard hit areas were Bush Lot, Trafalgar, Bath Settlement, Kingelly, Rosignol and Tempie villages. Farmer have lost crops, especially those in Bath Settlement and the Mahaicony areas of Airy Hall, Huntley, Dundee and Novar.

Rice farmers in the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary area have also experienced flooding.

Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal told this publication that the Hope Canal has played a great role in reducing flooding in those communities.

“In the past, when the East Demerara Conservancy would have reached its maximum level, water would normally be channelled to the Mahaica Creek area and flood that area. However, since the canal was dug and is fully operational, it would have helped tremendously with (draining) the farming communities within the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary area,” Ramphal noted.

He said the Region 5 administration has sought assistance from the NDIA to acquire pumps, but only one has been made available to the region.

Other flood-hit areas are also calling on the NDIA to assist with pumps. According to Ramphal, the Regional Democratic Council is not doing much to assist.

The chairman explained that the regional administration is faced with difficulties at the regional level because of lack of cooperation from the council. (Andrew Carmichael)

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