Headlines      Issue Released February 2, 2005


The 2005 Guyana Flood Disaster

Water receding

but many areas still submerged


Georgetown More than two weeks after unusally high rainfall inundated Guyana's capital city and most areas in East and West Demerara, the water level has dropped, but not significantly between Ogle and Enmore.

This was confirmed last Sunday by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (NDIB), Mr Ravi Narine who estimated that if there is no rainfall and if all the pumps are kept working, it will take one more week for the flood levels to decrease substantially.

Others, however, do not share Narine's optimism. Last Wednesday, Narine had projected that the waters would have receded in seven days. That projection has now been revised.

Over the past two weeks, there have been copious claims and counterclaims about breaches to the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC). The NDIB head said he visited the EDWC but found no marked deterioration leading to breaches. He said that the century-old Conservancy dam is being monitored by some 100 persons on a minute-by-minute basis and that the army has been mandated to take aerial photographs of the dam which are examined by the authorities.

But the Kaieteur News reported in its Monday edition that there was a breach "in excess of five feet wide" in the Conservancy dam at the back of Vryheid's Lust according to residents.

The paper stated that there were reports of seepage through the dam and people in the affected areas were seeing dark water, suggesting that it was coming from the conservancy.

Particularly, residents of Strathspey and Vigilance were reporting rising flood waters on Sunday evening according to the Kaieteur News. The water was reportedly "clear", suggesting that it was fresh and not the stagnant water fron the rains.

During the height of the floods, the Conservancy dam was overtopping and this contributed significantly to the flooding and possibly weakening of the dam.

Narine said that the approximately 60 inches of rain that fell recently amounted to about five feet of water on the ground. To remove this, water from the EDWC is being discharged through the Maduni and Land of Canaan sluices but this will, in turn affect farmers in the Mahaica area who have been warned to prepare for the possible flooding.

The CEO of NDIB reflected on the what would happen if the rains should continue. Water level would rise and this would complicate things, he said.





Coping with The Great Flood: These Bryan Mackintosh pictures show the flood situation on January 30, 2005, two weeks after the rains came. Upper left - A community cooking centre in Lusignan manned by volunteers that provide food for flood victims in the area. Many such cooking locations have sprung up along the Embankment Road and elsewhere; Upper right - Creative means have to be devised to enter one's home when the bridge is submerged and is nowhere to be seen; Middle - These people are entering a shelter in Mon Repos where boats have become the only viable means of getting around; Below - This is not a lakefront property! Deceptive as it may seem, it is still the University of Guyana campus showing the extent of water coverage even after the level reportedly dropped between 18-24 inches.







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