$60M emergency food supplies for flood victims

By Amanda Wilson
Guyana Chronicle
July 1, 2000

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said $60M of the $100M emergency fund for flood victims will be used for emergency food supplies while the remaining sum will go towards financial assistance. He gave the assurance to residents in Haslington and Golden Grove, two of the villages hardest hit by flood waters from relentless rains, during a visit along the East Coast Demerara.

The President was accompanied by Agriculture Minister, Mr Reepu Daman Persaud and Minister of Local Government, Mr Harripersaud Nokta.

He explained that flood victims who cannot leave their homes to purchase food because of the level of the water will benefit from the emergency supplies.

The President said financial help will also be given to those who have lost livestock and farms in order for communities to return to economic activities.

Asked how much money will be given to each village, Mr Jagdeo said that issue will be addressed by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) which is coordinating the flood relief activities with other agencies.

The CDC will assess affected areas before monies and other forms of assistance are handed over to residents, he said.

During the tour, the President observed that the water level is higher in some areas and that Haslington and Golden Grove seem to be the hardest hit villages.

Mr Jagdeo told those concerned about medical supplies he will address that issue but assured them that a medical team will visit villages when the water recedes.

An additional pump went into operation at Haslington yesterday around 15:00 hours while another pump nearby continued to drain off the water.

The President noted that the drainage systems were not designed to manage unusually heavy rainfall in such a short period.

And because the Guyana coast is low-lying, the excessive water compounded with lack of maintenance will cause flooding, he pointed out.

There have been unusually heavy rains since May.

Highlighting that Guyana is not as bad off as other countries including Brazil where many lives were lost during disasters, Mr Jagdeo said the government is looking at resources for additional drainage and reservoir systems.

The President noted the administration may have to reintroduce some old methods including replanting vegetation and policing dams along villages.

During his visit President Jagdeo spoke with villagers about the various steps being undertaken to assist communities.

He also made an appointment for a young child who has a gash on his right leg to seek medical attention today.

Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) Agriculture Manager for the region, Mr Sahadad Baksh who is managing one of the company's pumps in Haslington, told the President that eight inches of water had been pumped out of the village.

Baksh said that at the rate they are working flood waters will be completely drained from the village in another two days if there is no rain.

However, he said the draining process will take a longer time in other villages along the coast.

Haslington resident, Mr Joseph Anthony told Mr Jagdeo that a medical team visited the area yesterday morning and distributed bottles of bleach.

Anthony said the medical team informed him that other medical supplies will be given to the community and he is pleased with the efforts being made to improve the situation.

A resident from Golden Grove, whose legs were covered in rashes, also spoke with President Jagdeo.

The woman expressed concern that the area is not getting water and was assured by the President that the situation will be addressed immediately.

While in Golden Grove, Mr Jagdeo also spoke with a representative from the Region Four Democratic Council who was distributing drinking water donated by the Guyana Water Authority.

Several other communities along the coast are also affected by flood waters and villagers continue to report losses in poultry and other livestock.

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