…relief supplies sent in as evacuation efforts underway
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan on Monday led a team from the Guyana Civil Defence Commission (CDC) to assess the level of flooding and offer relief to residents of affected communities in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
However, this publication understands that water levels are rapidly rising since it continues to rain heavily in the South Rupununi and the Pakaraimas.
Persistent heavy rainfall over the weekend forced the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) to activate its Regional Disaster Management Plan and hold a meeting with the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and various regional departmental heads to address the issue of relief and evacuation of affected residents.
Several communities within the Region were under water after the Takutu and Rupununi Rivers overtopped their banks and as a result, several creeks overtopped as well. Emergency shelters have been activated at the Arapaima Primary School, the Amerindian Hostel and the Culvert City Nursery School. Hotlines have been set up, and drivers and vehicles are on standby to evacuate affected persons to the shelters.
Over 30 homes have been evacuated and more residents are moving to higher ground. This publication understands that in excess of 2000 persons have been affected; however, the CDC says an official count is still underway.
The Regional Chairman, Brian Allicock, has stated that almost all the Toshaos and village captains in the Region have reported that their farms were under water and the villages of Karasabai, Parishara, Nappi and Hiowa were cut off from Lethem because the road was completely under water.
The team, which travelled to the Region on Monday, included Deputy Director of the CDC, Major Kester Craig, who told this newspaper that the schools in the area have been ordered to remain closed until the end of the week. He added that the CDC has deployed its Preparedness and Response Manager to the Region, and was expected to work closely with the RDC’s Regional Emergency Operations Centre.
“We are waiting on further assessment to get a better understanding on what’s happening at the other remote locations. In those locations, the water is a bit high and it is difficult to get to those locations, so we are waiting on the Toshaos to send in the information to us to get a better understanding of the overall situation,” Craig added.
He said that they were also closely monitoring accessibility to communities in Southern Rupununi and the Pakaraimas, since most have been completely shut off and on account of the water levels, the team was unable to visit those communities.
Craig also said that there were several farms that have been destroyed by the excess water.
Guyana Times understands that the water levels are rapidly rising and up to press time, villagers in the Deep South are battling to save their crops despite the water levels.
Meanwhile, Deputy Aishalton Toshao Dorothy James said that a woman almost drowned when the boat she was travelling in capsized while attempting to cross the Rupununi River. She added that they were constantly checking their farms trying to save the cassava and have already begun pulling some that were under water.
There are reports that the village of Awaruwaunau in Deep South Rupununi has been under water for over a week, since the area has been experiencing heavy rainfall for more than two weeks. Some 35 farms are completely washed away, but the residents are battling to save the cassava plants.
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 Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) as the water washed away houses, but fortunately, there were no casualties.
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 to 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. ( Lakhram Bhagirat)