Over 200 farms destroyed amid flooding in Region 8
…water levels continue to rise in Kamarang
More than 200 farms have been destroyed amid major flooding in several parts of Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
This is according to Regional Chairman Headley Pio, who told Guyana Times on Thursday that assessments were still ongoing to determine the full extent of the floods and corresponding damage.
However, from reports garnered thus far, he noted that more than 130 farms were now waterlogged from heavy rainfall in Bamboo Creek.
At Paruka, some 30 small farms have been affected while at Kopinang, in excess of 100 farms are under water.
The Regional Chairman said he was yet to receive reports about the situation in Chenapau, Kato, and Monkey Mountain.
El Paso is possibly the hardest-hit community in the Region, with houses completely submerged as the Potaro River overflowed. Water levels had reached some five feet. This newspaper was told that the water is slowly receding.
The floods left the homes of six families completely underwater. The flood also forced one side of the Tumatumari Hydropower Station to break. The roads are completely flooded and are currently closed; the only access to El Paso is by boat.
Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai has already visited El Paso where relief hampers were distributed to residents. She is expected to visit other affected areas in the region. Residents of El Paso were in high praise of the prompt response from the Government.
“It is good to know that we received such quick response. The Minister visited the next day after she was informed about the flooding,” one resident said.
Another added that the empathy shown and the support given were most welcome.
According to another resident, “in the past when certain Government Ministers came, priority was only given to their supporters…Minister Sukhai did not approach things in that manner and we commend her for her approach.”
Meanwhile, over at Kamarang, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), more than 50 plots of farmland have already been devastated by floods as water levels continue to rise.
This is according to Regional Chairman Kenneth Williams, who told this publication that the situation in the village was constantly being monitored by officials.
He revealed that the floods have so far affected more than 24 acres of land belonging to 58 farmers whose major crops are ground provisions and vegetables.
The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has already distributed some 79 hampers to the villagers while the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) continues to assist with relief efforts.
Other villages in the region are also reeling from the effects of flooding such as Isseneru and Puruni.
Heavy rainfall expected
The Guyana Hydrometeorological Service has said that the current heavy, persistent rain being experienced may not end until mid-July/August.
In an interview on Wednesday with the National Communications Network, Head of Climatology at the Hydromet Office, Khomalchand Dhiram said the end of the rainy season was different in the northern and southern parts of Guyana. He explained that in northern Guyana, the transition out of the rainy season usually occurred in mid-July. In the southern part of Guyana, the transition occurs in August.
Chand said Guyana and other countries in the Americas are exiting the La Niña phase. This, along with the El Niño phase, is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.
During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia. Off the west coast of the Americas, upwelling increases, bringing cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface.
Meanwhile, Chief Hydromet Officer, Dr Garvin Cummings revealed that the above-normal rainfall dates back to December 2020 – with the exception of February 2021.
“There were excessive amounts of rainfall which means that the soil is saturated. Really, during May 25-31, 2021 was really the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back because then the soil is oversaturated, hence, the situation that we are in now,” he said.
Dr Cummings said what was unique about this year, when compared to 2005 when Guyana suffered the devastating ‘Great Flood’ was that the severe weather was not isolated to any geographical space. He was quick to note, however, that the current weather has placed “severe pressure” on the system, as well as mitigation efforts.
“We may have seven days of continuous rainfall. But there are indications that we may have consecutive days of dryness as well. While the forecast is suggesting above-normal rainfall, above what we would usually get, [when] we compare this year to the long-term average, we see that we exceeded that in some cases by 50-60 per cent, and in some cases, approaching to 100 per cent. Note that we are just starting in June, so the rainy season is now peaking.”
In terms of the Hydromet Office’s capacity, Dr Cummings noted that the biggest challenge is being able to effectively communicate not only the amount of rainfall, but its impact. Notwithstanding this, he pointed out that recent investments by the Government have aided in scaling-up the Hydromet Office’s forecast capacity.