Flash floods leave city under water

…as City Hall yet to clear clogged drains, canals
…heavy rainfall forecast to last until Sunday

Flash floods on Wednesday inundated sections of Georgetown, putting several residences and businesses in the city under water after hours of torrential rainfall coupled with roaring thunder and flashes of lightening in the wee hours.
Compounding the situation in Georgetown are clogged drains and canals. Among the areas in the city affected are: Albouystown, Alexander Village, Bel Air, East and North Ruimveldt, and South Ruimveldt Gardens and Park.
According to the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), over the last 24 hours there has been approximately five inches of rainfall, while the drainage capacity caters for only two inches of water; hence the severity of flooding.
It was noted that low tide is forecast to be at 11:56h at a height of 0.90mm, which provides some relief for waters to recede.
The Public Works Ministry had dispatched regional engineers and technical officers to assess the situation throughout the ten administrative regions in light of heavy rainfall over the past few hours.
The Inter-Agency Task Force, comprising representatives from the Local Government Ministry, Public Works Ministry, National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) and the Regional Officials, has already been established to ensure that the risk of damage and interference to homes and businesses is minimised.
Meanwhile, Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine has reported that businesses in the capital city suffered millions in losses as a result of the floods.
The Mayor and his team visited various wards of Georgetown to assess the damage done by floodwaters, and met with affected residents. Narine has reported that stores on Regent Street, Guyana’s premier shopping district, have been completely flooded out. However, the Mayor did not address the issues of the City Hall’s failure to clear and clean clogged drains and canals in the city.
The CDC said, “The National Weather Watch Centre has advised that the current weather pattern is forecast to last until November 08, 2020.” To this end, Director-General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, has called on Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) to activate their Regional Emergency Operation Centres (REMS) to prepare for expected flooding.
The Director General has said that based on reports from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Hydrometeorological Service, Guyana is expected to receive above-normal rainfall and low-lying areas could experience flooding.
While the CDC would continue to monitor the expected rainfall, Craig said, RDCs should activate their multi-agency response mechanisms, since the CDC cannot do it alone.
“The CDC is prepared to work with all the Regional Democratic Councils to provide technical guidance to ensure effectiveness and efficiency,” the Director-General noted.
The Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) are also being called upon to play their role and to lend support to the RDC.
“The emergency response mechanism, from national right down to the community level, it is important that we activate it and be on standby to respond and alleviate the impact of (flooding) across the country,” Craig underscored.
The Commission is advising residents of riverine, low-lying and flood-prone areas to take all necessary precautions and to contact the National Emergency Monitoring System (NEMS) on 226-1114, 623-1700 and 600-7500, should they be affected.
In fact, upon the direction of Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, who holds responsibility for disaster management, the CDC has decided to partially activate the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
The NEOC will immediately examine the possibility of shelters in regions that have been affected by the weather. The decision was made following an initial two-hour inspection of flooded communities throughout the city.
Following the assessment Wednesday morning, Director-General Craig told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that “almost every community has some level of water accumulation. In some instances, there are seven to eight inches of water on the road, and some homes are under two to three inches of water.”
Assessments were done in the affected communities in Georgetown on Wednesday to assess the structural aspect of the flooding to lessen the accumulation.
Meanwhile, the CDC is collaborating with the Georgetown M&CC to identify hard-hit communities, and providing sanitation items to affected residents.
The Director-General is urging residents to start disinfecting their homes, and to keep children away from flood waters.
“I also want to encourage residents to discourage children from playing in the water, to prevent health issues, and to stock up on sand bags to protect your property,” he said.
Persons in need of support can contact the CDC’s 24-hour National Emergency Monitoring System on telephone numbers: 226-1114 or 226-1617. Reports of flooding can also be made. (G8)