Breached river defence causes severe flooding at Stanleytown

Stabroek News
June 5, 2000

A recently raised river defence structure broke away under the pressure of the Demerara river yesterday morning resulting in severe flooding at Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara.

Water as high as four feet in some places invaded villagers' bottom flats, the village church, cemetery, outdoor toilets, the nursery school and a business place causing damage.

When Stabroek News visited the area at about 1440 hrs yesterday residents especially those in bottom flats, were still trying to come to grips with the early morning episode which left their belongings waterlogged.

Frantic efforts were being made by some to complete emergency works which could help alleviate the situation if the flood waters return this morning.

Chairs had to be put out in the sun to dry with other items.

Residents stated that the water was so deep on the land that those residing near to the river had to use boats in and out of their property.

The St Marks Presbyterian Church located on the eastern side of the roadway was said to have been non-functional for the last six weeks as the state of the building's interior left much to be desired because of persistent seepage through the river defence.

Similarly, the nursery school which is located at the rear of the La Retraite Primary had to be moved to a front building.

Work as shown in this photo has been ongoing on the structure according to residents for the last month or so with contractors trying to raise the level of the wall. The spot where the dragline is situated is supposed to be an access dam. The cost of the project is said to be in the region of $4 million. (An Orson Garnett photo)

A delegation from the village is to stage protest action at the Regional Democratic Office sometime this week to highlight their plight. This newspaper spoke to the proprietor of Tyson's Variety Store who gave his name only as Tyson. His bottom flat which also houses his business had some 2-3 feet of water at the peak of the inundation.

This is the second day in a row that the place has been flooded stated the visibly upset businessman who pointed to marks on his concrete fence which indicated the level of the water on his premises.

He recalled that he awoke at around 0430 hrs to find his bottom flat with his electrical equipment flooded. He immediately began making arrangements to have them raised as the level increased rapidly.

He disclosed that the problem arose about a month ago when work started on the river defence at the back of the village which he stated had sunk some three feet.

When Stabroek News arrived he had only a short while before completed cleaning his bottom flat which he lamented was full of mud.

Tyson said that he had to move his family away due to the increased risk of contracting diseases from the flooding of outdoor toilets and the nearby cemetery.

The businessman had prepared by laying sand bags at his doors for the floods which he said occur whenever there is spring tide.

Stabroek News also visited the site where the breach was said to have occurred. This had been sealed with cement covering sand bags but there were other areas which indicated weak points susceptible to high tides. Fearful residents doubted it would withstand the ever rising Demerara river. (Oscar P. Clarke)

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