…as government responds to flooding in the Rupununi
-Ministers Harmon, Ferguson to visit Lethem today
THE Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is on stand-by to provide assistance to residents of the town of Lethem and flood-hit areas in the Rupununi, even as residents reported that the water levels have been rising in recent days.
Almost similar to what happened in 2011; the flooding was caused by persistent rainfall which resulted in the overtopping of the main waterways in the area. On Thursday government noted that Prime Minister Nagamootoo , who is performing the duties of President, was updated that waters in the area have risen up to five feet between 05:00hrs and 11:00hrs yesterday, Wednesday July 4, and that 25 residents were evacuated and are being housed at the Culvert City Primary School, Tabatinga Community Centre and the Amerindian Hostel.
The Prime Minister instructed that the Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson be dispatched to Region 9 to assess the state of public infrastructure in the area.
Further, Minister Harmon will lead a team, which will include officials, to Lethem and Tabatinga today. On Thursday, Minister Harmon noted during a post-Cabinet press briefing that the regional administration has indicated that they can manage the situation but if the situation worsens, they would require further assistance.
He said that the CDC is in contact with the regional authorities and has identified and quantified the needs requirements in communities. He said as minister responsible for the CDC, he will travel to obtain a first-hand view of the situation.
Minister Harmon said too that Radio Lethem is playing an important role in keeping residents informed about the actions being taken by government and the regional administration. He said the regional emergency operation centre has been activated.
He noted that a preliminary list of items which will be provided to the area at short notice include aviation fuel to facilitate emergency medical evacuation should the need arise for remote areas, water purification tablets, water storage containers, food and bedding for residents who are occupying shelters.
Residents told the Guyana Chronicle that the flood waters are continuing to rise and they feared that the flooding may reach levels higher than the 2011 floods which covered the area. A resident of Lethem noted that the water was rising quickly. “I am here trying to save my chicken, this water climbing with a speed,” she said as she made desperate attempts to save her chickens. Other areas under water include sections of Culvert City, Tabatinga , the area between the Lethem market and the airstrip as well as parts of St. Ignatius village.
Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of Education said after consultation with the Regional Democratic Council of the region, a decision was taken to close five schools. These are: St. Ignatius Primary, St. Ignatius Secondary, Arapaima Primary, Arapaima Nursery and Culvert City Nursery school. Parents and guardians of children attending these schools were advised not to send their children to school.
These closed schools are being used as shelters to provide much-needed relief to affected residents. Presently there are a total of 25 persons in temporary shelters at Culvert City Primary School, Tabatinga Community Centre Ground and the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem. The Civil Defence Commission has been engaged and is currently working with the RDC of Region 9 to provide relief and support to affected communities. School officially closes for the August holidays today.