…making interventions to reduce impact of heavy rainfall
THE ‘Flood Watch’ is on, as government is closely monitoring the persistent heavy rainfall across the country, ensuring that a number of mechanisms and systems it had previously put in place to eliminate or minimise the effects of the heavy rainfall are working well. Over the last 48 hours, some regions across the country have experienced approximately 240 millimetres of rainfall, more than the amount normally expected for the entire month of January. This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who briefed reporters yesterday while on a visit to several pump stations and flood-affected areas along the East Coast of Demerara.
“With that kind of rainfall, one would expect that it would pose some challenge for our drainage system”, the minister said. Many communities in Regions 2, 3 and 4, particularly on the East Coast of Demerara, were affected by the heavy rainfall which led to flooding in those areas.
However, the minister has assured that the situation is under control, as a number of government officials are on a fan-out exercise countrywide, to ensure that the necessary interventions are made in a timely manner and to keep the situation under control. The teams include engineers from the Agriculture Ministry who are monitoring what is taking place on the ground.
Additionally, the government says it is monitoring the situation on a 24-hour basis, identifying areas that need additional interventions. It is also working to ensure all the sluices and pumps are operable. According to the minister, in cases where the need arises for additional cleaning of drains, the ministry is moving to do so.
The impact of the heavy rainfall could have been disastrous, but this was averted through the preparatory works conducted over the past months, the agriculture minister said. While the flooding situation cannot be totally prevented, the impact has been reduced.
In some parts of Region 6, the water has already receded, while in other parts there is need for additional interventions. In those areas, mobile pumps have been deployed and the monitoring exercise continues.
In Region 3, the Canals Polder is the most affected area, while the government continues to provide additional support to bring some level of relief. According to Minister Ramsammy, the team from the Agriculture Ministry will continue to meet to devise ways in tackling the situation.
Minister Ramsammy told the media that staff of the Crops and Livestock Department of the Ministry are on the ground, providing support and advice to farmers on what they can do to save their crops. “We will continue to provide that kind of support’ he said.
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds has convened a national team, including officials from the Ministries of Health and Public Works, which are also playing a critical role in the monitoring and support exercise.
With little or no rain in some areas yesterday, the water has already started receding. However, the minister is assuring that there are no threats with regard to an outbreak of diseases, and the situation is not life- threatening. As such, he said government will continue to work to ensure that the situation improves and does not deteriorate.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Lionel Wordsworth, in an invited comment, said his organisation is working along with the Ministry of Local Government agencies, such as the Regional Democratic Councils and the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, to ensure that all pumps and sluices operate effectively.
He said over the weekend, interventions were made at Triumph on the East Coast of Demerara, and excavators and pontoons have been deployed to dredge the Hope outfall channel. A mobile pump will be installed at Helena, while pumps are to be rented for deployment in the Buxton area, since the NDIA has exhausted its resources in terms of mobile and fixed pumps.
In addition, an excavator will be sent to Vryheid’s Lust and Better Hope on the East Coast of Demerara. An additional mobile pump will be deployed to Canal No.1, while additional mobile pumps will be installed at Grove/ Diamond in Region 4.
A mobile pump will also be deployed at New Amsterdam, Region 6, which is currently being tested at the canal at Strathspey, on the East Coast of Demerara.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry, in a release, stated that during the next 24 hours, current conditions will be sustained with light to moderate intermittent rainfall.
Occasional heavy downpours are likely during the period as well.