Lethem, several other areas in Region 9 under water


…residents evacuated in some areas
By Lakhram Bhagirat

Several parts of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) are under water following heavy rainfall over the weekend, which resulted in at least two families being evacuated.
Up to press time on Sunday, the floodwaters were rising rapidly. Residents are taking precautions to ensure their homes and property are not destroyed by the water.

A section of Lethem under water

INews understands that the community of Tabatinga, Lethem in Central Rupununi is completely under water along with several other parts of South Rupununi and the Pakaraimas.
According to the Agriculture Ministry’s Hydrometeorological Office, residents can expect relief with sunny weather and some passing showers expected (when). The estimated rainfall is between 5mm and 10mm with temperatures ranging between 17 degrees Celsius and 28 degrees Celsius.
Opposition parliamentarian for the Hinterland Regions, Alister Charlie told this publication that the flooding was due to ‘heavy and persistent’ rainfall over the weekend. He said the Rupununi and Takutu Rivers have overtopped their banks, forcing water into the residential areas and, as a result, Deep South Rupununi and South Pakaraimas have been shut off.
The residents say the water have been rising since Saturday and have risen to almost 14 inches in some parts. They added that owing to the heavy rainfall, the water is still rapidly rising. Some residents chastised the Regional Administration for their lack of response and information as it relates to relief efforts.

This family shows the level of the water

Meanwhile, the controversial $60 million Tabatinga bridge was also under water making it impassable and, according to Charlie, the residents are of the view that there was not a dire need for the bridge, but there is an immediate need for the maintenance of roads within the Tabatinga Housing Scheme. The roads in Tabatinga are in a deplorable state and most times are a major hazard to road users.
The Mayor of the municipality of Lethem, Carlton Beckles, had said in his justification for constructing the bridge that this would ease traffic congestion at the main Tabatinga Bridge. However, residents argue that there is not any traffic congestion in the area. No consultations with the residents of Lethem were said to have been done prior to the construction of the bridge.
Since the beginning of the May-June rainy season, citizens were warned to expect higher than normal rainfall and to take the necessary precautions. However, since it began, several villages have experienced major flooding and some are still trying to rebuild after the floods. The hard-hit communities were mostly limited to Regions Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and 8 (Potaro-Siparuni) as the water washed away houses, but fortunately, there were no casualties.

More houses under water in Tabatinga

One such village is Chenapau in Region Eight. Water levels in the Amerindian village rose to approximately 20 feet in some areas and the Potaro River remains flooded owing to the heavy rains the Region is currently experiencing.
The residents there are fearful of rebuilding since the threat of another flood is looming on the horizon. Roadways and access to the other zones in the village remain flooded. Villagers are also accusing the Government of neglecting them since the water receded from their lands.
They complained that following the initial relief supplies, the Government has yet to offer any additional supplies to the community as they are still battling to recuperate. Farms in the village were washed away and residents were finding it difficult to restart.
Approximately two weeks ago, access to Aishalton, Region Nine was cut off when the Kabanawau Creek overtopped its banks and flooded the area. The bridge leading into Aishalton was flooded, cutting off access to the village for several hours.
Just last weekend, several communities along the East Coast of Demerara and in Georgetown reported water levels over two feet in some areas. This was a result of heavy rainfall and poor drainage management/infrastructure in some areas.

This house forms an island at Lethem

A ministerial task force comprising Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder visited the communities of Buxton and Vigilance to assess the damage caused by the flood.
The Ministers promised a number of interventions, which included the movement of a pump from Strathspey to Ogle to assist in removing the water in that village since the pumps there were inoperable.
Residents in some of those areas are still battling with floodwaters and are assessing their damage. They are calling for better management of drainage infrastructure, especially in the Ogle-Industry-Cummings Lodge area.
Over on the West Bank of Demerara, farmers and residents of Canals Numbers One and Two are counting their losses as their farms remain under water. They are estimating damage to be in the range of millions, since many of them lost all of their crops to the floodwaters. They are also accusing the Regional Administration of carelessness since they claim that nothing is being done to assist them and they are given incorrect information from the engineers at the Regional Democratic Office.


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