Almost every house along the Mahaicony Creek in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) remain underwater from floods which began in May and today, residents are at wits end on how they will recover from this natural disaster – the worst they have ever experienced in over a decade.
For many, while they are grateful for the food hampers which are being distributed, they believe more tangible assistance is needed, particularly cash grants to help them rebuild and rebound.
“Many days you gotto sit down and cry for the losses that you get,” expressed Lucille Budhoo who has been living at Water Dog Creek, Mahaicony Creek for some 43 years.
The 65-year-old woman lives with her husband, a pensioner. She explained to this publication that almost all her animals have died and the few trees she planted have been wiped out.
The woman was also in the process of enclosing the downstairs of her home to make it easier to sell her produce, as using the stairs has become too cumbersome. However, most of the construction materials like sand, bricks, sacks of cement, and steel rods have been damaged.
“Me does mind them thing this fuh sell fuh mek abbey daily bread when the week up and month come,” the woman explained.
“Now abbey nah got nuthin leff foh get a money out of it anymore. Nothing, nothing left,” she expressed, on the verge of tears.
“The water take all me animals them. I does depend pon cow and milk it and sell but now we nah got nothing leff…nothing nah deh, all dead. Me lose 25 head cow, 4 goat, 100 duck chicken, plenty big duck and creole chicken. Me only get about ten leff now,” the woman explained.
At the height of the floods, the water was waist high but now, floodwaters are slowly receding. Budhoo’s house remains underwater and there isn’t much she can do now to start the recovery process.
She is pleading with the government to provide assistance in the form of cash to help her rebuild. According to the woman, she does not want to burden on her children.
“Dah wah me nah like at all, to ask chirren foh something. When you work, you work and build of your own sweat, me never like ask nobody for nothing…[but] me need back money foh start me business,” the woman explained.
“People ah share hamper yes, but there is no money…yes, you prefer the money, wah yuh gonna do with all this hamper, all this rice them ah bring and give you,” she posited.
The situation is the same for Seerati Sohanlall who lives along the Mahaicony Creek with her husband and three daughters, the youngest of whom is a healthcare worker at the Mora Point Health Centre.
Sohanlall spoke to INews from a zinc shed of her home, as some 3ft high floodwater still lingers throughout the entire bottom flat of her house. Items in her kitchen and bedroom were damaged when the water from the Creek began to rush in without much warning. The mother estimates her losses to be about $300,000 to $500,000.
“If yall can help me back with some money, like fuh buy back some stuff, that would be okay,” she said.
Sohanlall is also pleading for assistance in fixing a hanging powerline in her yard, which she says is extremely dangerous especially with the flooding.
Meanwhile, 62-year-old Khemkarran Jori, who has been farming along the Creek for some ten years, is now millions of dollars in debt as the floodwaters have destroyed some 100 acres of “harvest ready” rice crop.
Additionally, his cash crops like bora, calalu, ochro, and peppers have also been destroyed. He too explained that the water rushed onto his land without much warning.
“The water come so fast…this water ah run through hay like when a koker ah open up…big speed steady…the water ah run terrible speed,” he explained. “The water get big and the bush water start come. Me been a cut rice at the back there and we could just cut 2 load paddy…the combine leff there…”
Jori is now worried about how he will restart his operations when the floodwaters recede.
“Abbey owe bank, abbey owe small business $2.5M, abbey owe IPED four [million dollars] something…,” he explained, noting that he also owes several million dollars to millers.
“That ah wan big set back budday cause them man dem want they money…remember them invest, they give you fertilizer, they give drugs, they give diesel,” he explained.
In order to recover, the farmer wants government intervention to provide banking relief to farmers who have been devastated as a result of the floods.
“If the bank them can reduce the interest and reschedule the loan them, and if the miller them can give an assistance foh go back into the next crop…till in October, November abbey gon shy again,” the farmer explained.
“Cause is everything abbey gotto get back,” he noted.
The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) had reported that a total of 36,083 households across 300 communities have been affected by the countrywide floods that began around May 18.
President Dr Irfaan Ali had on June 9 officially declared flooding in the country a disaster.
All ten administrative regions across the country experienced flooding, with Regions Ten, Seven, Six, Five, and Two being considered the most impacted areas.