“Unusually” high river level causes flooding in Eteringbang, Region 7
…businesses, households severely affected
Several businesses and houses in the hinterland community of Eteringbang, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) are currently inundated after the “unusually” high river resulted in rising water levels on Thursday.
The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on Thursday said that it received reports that flood waters have risen significantly in Eteringbang. According to preliminary reports, the CDC revealed that some 10 commercial establishments and at least three households have been impacted.
“Early assessments also indicate that waters have risen to approximately three feet in some parts and continue to rise,” the Commission said.
However, Region Seven Chairman Kenneth Williams told the Guyana Times that while the water was about three feet initially, by late Thursday afternoon the levels had risen to approximately six feet.
“Up to about 5 o’clock [17:00h] the water was rising. The information is that it was about three or four feet above normal levels but at 5 o’clock, this has increased to about five or 6 feet above normal level,” the Chairman noted.
According to Williams, the floods were caused by high tides and not rainfall.
“It’s unusual high tides, it’s not rain… Unusual water levels in the river just rose today… But people [who are affected] are moving to higher grounds,” he told this newspaper on Thursday evening.
Nevertheless, the Region Seven Chairman was confident that the water level would recede by this morning.
The CDC, in its missive, indicated that the Cuyuni-Mazaruni region is expected to endure rainfall throughout the night and towards the end of the week. It noted that these rainfall is estimated to measure as much as two inches during a 12-hour period.
According to Chairman Williams, if this is the case then it would spell trouble for the community of Eteringbang.
“If the water levels continue to rise and there is extensive rainfall, then more than likely we will see some amounts of inundation. So, I’m praying that the levels in the river go down and if it rains, we will have some sort of respite,” he posited.
The Regional Chair noted that by this morning, he will have a better assessment as to the situation on the ground as to whether it was a “flash-flood or it’s going to continue”.
Williams disclosed that Eteringbang had experienced similar occurrences in recent weeks but the water levels were not as high as they got on Thursday.
Meanwhile, during the May-June heavy downpour that saw high-levels of flooding across the country and even in some communities in Region Seven, it was noted that Eteringbang was also inundated. But according to the Chairman, the water levels there were not as severe as other communities in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni region that were flooded such as Waramadong and Jawalla.
Nevertheless, the CDC on Thursday said it is working with the Regional Authorities in Region Seven to monitor the developing situation. The Commission further noted that it is prepared to dispatch relief supplies and an assessment team to Eteringbang if the need arises.
The last time the mining community of Eteringbang experience severe flooding was in August 2019 following persistent rainfall over a few days.
Between May and June this year, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across the country, affecting some 30,000 households. The devastation includes submerged buildings and vehicles with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health.
It has been noted that the rainfall experienced in May alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years. The situation had led President Dr Irfaan Ali to formally declare the flooding a national disaster.
While the water has significantly receded, flood victims are now grappling with the impacts. Preliminary assessments were carried out by several state agencies to ascertain the extent of the destruction caused by the floods.
Additionally, a team from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) was here last month to conduct a Detailed Damage Sector Assessment and is expected to submit its report soon.
On the sidelines of an event last week, President Ali disclosed that preliminary findings from these two reports show the scale of the floods, which not only affected Guyana but neighbouring Suriname and Brazil as well.
“I think the scale of the floods has been enormous in terms of damage to crops to livelihood to households. I think just the magnitude and scale of just the economic lost and the financial loss has been enormous and that you will see glaring in the report,” he posited.
Meanwhile, Government is also now trying to get a socio-economic impact assessment done.
“We’re trying to get ECLAC (the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) to give us some final help,” the President said adding that announcements will subsequently be made regarding financial assistance to flood victims.
Last month, government received approval from the National Assembly for $10 billion in supplementary funding for the provision of flood relief interventions, including repairs to infrastructure and supporting recovery in the productive and household sectors.
According to the Head of State, a lot roadways were damaged by the floods especially in the hinterland regions. He revealed that even the mining sector, which was also heavily impacted by the floods, are complaining about the damages to infrastructure not just from the floods but also by overweight trucks.
He noted that government will have to look at implementing weight guidelines and regulations. In addition, drainage is another critical area that government will also have to look at in order to enhance the output capacity. (G8)