Sea defence breach causes massive flooding in Wakenaam

…structure temporarily sealed

A breach to a section of the sea defence structure on the island of Wakenaam, located in the mouth of the Essequibo River, has led to inundation in the communities of Melville and Sans Souci between Saturday night and Sunday morning, causing much damage and much distress to islanders.
Reports are that negligence on the part of the contractor resulted in residents being faced with salt water levels as high as three feet, which invaded low-lying homes and damaged appliances, carpets and other household items.
Region Three Executive Officer Denis Jaikarran and a team from the Civil Defence Commission visited the area to assess the situation and oversee the distribution to residents of hampers which included disinfectant and other cleaning materials.
Wakenaam Neighbourhood Democratic (NDC) Chairman Sheik Amad, who also formed part of the response team, told this publication on Sunday that he also was in contact with Members of Parliament (MPs), including Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) representative Irfaan Ali.
Amad pointed out that the breach was sealed on Sunday morning, but stressed that over 12 homes have sustained damage from the flood waters. He added that the Sans Souci Masjid was also inundated, causing some damage.
Guyana Times understands that construction began on a rip-rap seawall at the back of Sans Souci mosque some two weeks ago. Reports are that on Tuesday morning, seepage was seen and some flooding was recorded.
This newspaper was also told that contractor Deodat Singh was called in to address the matter, and he undertook some remedial work. However, on Saturday evening, flooding began and continued into Sunday, leaving annoyed residents counting their losses.
The Wakenaam NDC Chairman told this newspaper that this latest flooding could have been avoided.
“When we investigate, it’s basically the contractor’s negligence for not (using) the (required) amount of material. The overtopping washed away the defence and caused a breach about 10 feet wide,” Amad noted.
Last March, residents of Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) assessed their losses at some $100 million following a phenomenal spring tide that breached the sea defence structure and invaded their community. Residents in Zeelugt’s Atlantic Ocean front on the East Bank Essequibo (EBE) and other villages of Meten-Meer-Zorg, Zeeburg, Stewartville, Leonora and Cornelia Ida were forced to move to higher ground, in some instances leaving their homes for safety.
At that time, humongous waves of the Atlantic Ocean hit the seawall with such crushing force as to cause a large part of this sea defence structure to break away; and one house reportedly came crashing down. MP Ali, who is the geographical representative for the People’s Progressive Party, had said the Opposition was working with a three-fold mandate which included supporting the Government agencies, completing an assessment of the damages, and engaging the stakeholders of Government in relation to relief efforts.
Over 300 residents were affected earlier this year by waves that demolished fences and destroyed bridges, furniture and other household appliances. Many persons had to take refuge in relief centres set up at various locations in the communities.