–NDIA moves in to address it, gov’t sends in other tangible support
FARMERS and the average resident of communities within Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) are affected by flooding which was caused by a breach in the sea defence at Danzig.
“My house get water, my garden in shambles, my livestock deh all over the place…I bin plant meh lil garden and meh lil pepper gone too,” said Gavin McGarrell, a resident of one of the flood-affected villages, Rebecca’s Lust.
McGarrell, who has been living in Rebecca’s Lust for over 20 years, said his community has never been flooded to that extent before.
The floods are as a result of above-normal high tides predicted at approximately 3.31 meters. About 300 metres of the sea defence has been compromised so water is continuously flowing through.
“We never see nothing like this before…everything gone…although meh got it bad, those farmers got it worse because some of them lose everything,” said McGarrell in an invited comment on Monday.
He said water started flowing over the structure two days ago and because of the heavy inundation not much could have been done to fix it immediately.
A farmer from Danzig, Sahadeo Ramcharan, said he lost acres of rice and most of his land was damaged by the salt water.
“I cannot plant back rice anymore because of the salt water…everything finish… all me years living here, I never see this place flood like this,” said Ramcharan, adding that he also lost his livestock in the flood.
Aside from the loss he suffered from the rice crops, he averaged his other losses to be about $3-$4 million.
“This thing only happening for two days now and I done lose so much I ain’t want think what would happen if it continues,” said the farmer.
A resident of Rebecca’s Lust, Annika Bissoon, shared similar sentiments, noting that the flood was unexpected so persons were unable to save most of their things.
Bissoon was joined by a group of farmers who all expressed their concern about what was going on.
Residents and farmers had an opportunity to talk about their losses with officials of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA), Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) and others.
Government Member of Parliament (MP), Jennifer Wade, said Government was aware of the situation and systems were being put in place to deal with the effects of the breach.
“Although we are now working to alleviate the problem, we were aware of the situation before and we had put systems in place, but the contractor did not do the work urgently so the unfinished work got caught with the high tide.
“I am very perturbed by what is going on…we had made the money available but the contractor could not finish the work,” said Wade.
She said it was a great disappointment on the part of the contractor because farmers and residents were suffering.
Another high tide was predicted for Monday, but the NDIA had started to mobilise machines to fix the breach.
This was according to a reliable source, who said NDIA had started working on the breach early in the day, but deployed additional machines in order to get the work done faster.
As the authority worked to fix the breach, other authorities such as the GLDA provided tangible support to farmers. The authority distributed 500 bags of chicken feed to farmers. Residents also received support in the form of cleaning supplies, water and food supplies.
It was reported that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) had deployed a five-person team to the communities of Danzig, Columbia, Glazier’s Lust, Fair Field, High Dam and Propect to assess the situation and render much-needed assistance.
“A rapid assessment in collaboration with the Regional Democratic Council, Region Five, was conducted across the communities and found that seven families experienced floodwaters in their homes. It was noted that several small scale subsistence farms, livestock, including poultry, were severely affected. Further, over 10 rice cultivated plots were inundated with saltwater,” the CDC Director-General, Kester Craig said as he gave a synopsis of the situation on the ground.
The CDC, he reported, provided the seven families with cleaning hampers to ensure that they were able to clean and return their homes to normalcy after the high tides. With the above normal high tides to continue for the next two days, the commission and local authorities have provided residents with sand to create sandbag barriers.
Cognizant of the effects floods could have on the health of communities and villages, the Ministry of Public Health issued an advisory on Sunday calling on citizens in the affected areas to take precautionary measures, and pay keen attention to their health, personal hygiene, vector control, food and water safety to avoid any waterborne illness.
“If you are living in flooded areas, stay out of the floodwater as much as possible, as it can greatly reduce your chances of contracting diseases such as skin irritation, skin infection, Leptospirosis, diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases,” the Public Health Ministry urged.
It explained that direct contact with floodwaters can expose persons to several germs that can lead to any of the named diseases.
“Keep children especially out of the water as they are most at risk of contracting diseases. Avoid swimming in canals and trenches. During the rainy season and floods, these become contaminated by both human and animal faeces and can make you sick,” it further warned.
Use of protective gears is key for those persons who are required to venture out into floodwaters, the Ministry said. These gears include long boots, gloves and eye protection.
“Prepare a foot bath of ½ cup of bleach to one bucket of water and wash your feet before entering the house. Apply Vaseline or oil to your skin as it forms a barrier and provides some protection from the dirty salted water,” the Public Health Ministry advised.
It also called on families to sleep under mosquito nets, use mosquito repellents and coils to prevent being bitten by the insects that could lead to Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.