By Andrew Carmichael
Just one day after regional authorities said that there is no danger of flooding at Black Bush Polder, Berbice, during the rainy season, a section of the area was under water on Friday.
On Thursday, Regional Chairman David Armogan told Guyana Times that the region has the capacity to drain the Black Bush Polder, not only in terms of gravitational flow but also by means of electrical pumps.
However, on Friday morning the polders of Johanna and Yakasary were inundated after a few hours of heavy rainfall.
Cash crop farmers and those in the residential areas were the worst affected by the floodwaters. Also affected were some rice and poultry farmers.
Residents are pointing an accusing finger at the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), which has the responsibility for the three main canals that drain the four polders.
Some of the sluice doors are silted and up to Friday afternoon could not be opened. Additionally, outfall channels at Adventure, Eversham and Number 43 Village are all blocked with silt. The pump at Number 43 Village is also out of operation.
These issues were all highlighted by this publication earlier in the month.
On Friday, several farmers were seen pumping water out of their farms and building embankments to prevent overtopping. The drainage system was ineffective since the two polders were filled to capacity.
The way home for many involved paddling through floodwaters.
Snakes and alligators have also been prevalent over the past day with farmers reporting their livestock being captured and eaten.
Nermalla Ramsarran, a mother of three of Yakasary, said she could not cook for her children on Friday because of the floodwaters.
“I go to cook egg curry and the whole place flood out…look all the wood right here and it wet.”
Her children had to contend with crackers for lunch and dinner.
Sharmilla Davi Pooran, a cash crop farmer, told Guyana Times that she and her husband cultivate ochro and during the morning her husband had to use a pump to get most of the water out of the farm.
She noted that they also cultivate rice, which was hit by a paddy bug infestation during the last crop.
“We get nothing from rice and now it look like we nah gon get nothing from garden,” she said while adding that they cannot afford to continue pumping water out of the farm as the rains continue.
“How much diesel we gon able buy?”
Sudeen Ramnauth called “Lil Boy” of Yakasary also said his crop was under water.
“I got to pump water, since morning my skin soak and I pumping water.” He said the canal which takes water to the sluice at Number 43 Village is clogged with vegetation. He added that the outfall channel needs desilting urgently.
Ramnauth also expressed concern that the pump at Number 43 Village was not being used to assist in getting the water out to the sea.
Raymond Joseph, a rice and cash crop farmer of Yakasary, explained that the rise in water was rapid and it has not been receding since Thursday.
“Instead of going down it coming up more; we are in need of relief here right now. Everything in the garden under water, I have to call off the garden now; I can’t get anything.”
He noted that the rice is also under threat despite it being the start of the crop.
“The rice in jeopardy; it is young rice – the seedling that lately shy. If rain fall again I might have to move out from here because the water come up right to the bottom house [lower flat]. Something needs to be done in here right now because this water is not going down. It is very dangerous here right now. Then you would find people getting sick because it is this water people have to walk in; the children have to walk in this same water to go to school.”
Former Chairman of the Black Bush Polder’s Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Takoor Persaud explained that over the past five months there was no maintenance to the Yakasary main drainage canal, which is currently clogged. Both Johanna and Yakasary use that canal for drainage
“Also, the outfall channel and upstream have been silted due to the long dry spell.”
As it relates to the current rice crop, eighty per cent of it has already begun and the farmers need drainage to get the excess water out of their rice fields.
He explained that the NDIA has commenced cleaning the outfall channel, however, with the heavy rainfall and the rice farmers pumping the excess water out, the residential areas are being affected.
“Presently the water is just pouring into the residential areas thus causing more flooding affecting cash crop and livestock.”
He noted that had the main drainage canal at Yakasary been maintained as of January, there would not have been so much water in Johanna and Yakasary.