‘Brace yourselves’ – CDC urges coastland residents to take precautions to prevent floods

A house at Lima, Essequibo Coast flooded today following hours of heavy rainfall last night
A house at Lima, Essequibo Coast flooded today following hours of heavy rainfall last night

With thundershowers anticipated this evening and in the coming days, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is urging residents along the coastland to take all precautions to prevent flooding of their homes.

Over the past few days, the country has experienced heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds.

Some areas across the country have already experienced various levels of flooding.

CDC’s Public Information Officer Patrice Wishart told INews that the organisation has, so far, not received any reports of any major disasters in any of the regions.

“No reports of flooding in any areas, nobody has reported anything of such. However some areas along the coast, especially low-lying and flood-prone areas should brace themselves. For instance, this evening’s weather forecast has intermediate rain along the coast so, it is very possible that some areas might be flooded, with a little bit of water maybe in the morning or during the course of tomorrow,” Wishart explained.

“We share infographics on our Facebook Page that share precautionary steps on how to prepare for a monumental or eventual flood,” he added.

According to the Hydromet Office forecast which was issued today, “rainfall is expected between 30.0 mm to 50.0 mm over Regions 1 to 5, with the highest expected over Regions 1 and 2. Between 10.0 mm to 20.0 mm is likely elsewhere within a 12 hours’ period.”

The forecast also warned that “in areas of heavy showers and thundershowers, persons are advised to exercise precautionary measures, given that the soil may have reached saturation and additional rainfall may result in water accumulation and flooding in these locations. Hilly areas may experience landslides.”

The forecast for October 26 to 29 also indicates that “rainfall intensities will vary across these locations with heaviest over Regions 1 to 3. Rainfall is anticipated between 30 mm to 70 mm within a 24 hours’ period, highest in Regions 1 to 3. All other areas will see occasional cloudy spells in the mid to late afternoon with scattered showers and thundershowers. Rainfall between 10 mm to 30 mm within a 24 hours’ period.”

When asked if, based on the CDC’s assessment, the current weather pattern will result in a similar level of flooding as the country experienced earlier this year, Wishart could not say.

“We can’t anticipate what exactly the rain would do to the low-lying and flood-prone areas but I would say that we are prepared to deal with it in any eventuality,” he noted.

Between May and June this year, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across the country, affecting thousands of households. The devastation included submerged buildings and vehicles with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health.

It has been noted that the rainfall experienced in May alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years. All ten administrative regions in Guyana experienced varied levels of flooding, causing President Dr Irfaan Ali to officially declare the situation as a Level Two disaster.

Following extensive fieldwork, the President had announced that $7.8 billion in flood relief assistance would be provided for citizens and farmers who were affected in all 10 administration regions by the rains and flooding that beset Guyana earlier this year

Approximately 52,000 households were affected in categories of homestead farmers, kitchen gardens, and households exclusive of farms/gardens. In these categories, the Head of State noted, farmers within the context of a homestead will receive $100,000 each, those with kitchen gardens will receive $50,000 each and households excluding homestead and kitchen garden will receive 50,000 each.

The President explained that the combined assistance to homestead farmers, kitchen gardens and households for these categories will be in excess of $3.5 billion. He acknowledged that whilst some large-scale farmers were severely affected, especially in the rice and poultry sectors, the ceiling of assistance will not exceed $10 million for individual farmers.

With regards to the rice sector, where 50,000 acres of farmlands and 2000 farmers were directly affected, President Ali announced that farmers with harvest ready rice that were destroyed will receive $80,000 per acre and rice sowed and lost in the autumn crop, these farmers will receive $65,000 per acre.

For land that was completely prepared but was not sowed, $45,000 per acre will be given to these farmers. In addition to this support, 60,000 bags of seed paddy will be made available. The combined assistance in these four categories will be in excess of $3.2 billion.

So far, some $2.5B in flood relief grants have already been distributed.