Flooding situation bleak in Upper Demerara River
Relief council hands out supplies

by Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
June 13, 2000

Members of the Guyana Relief Council (GRC) on Sunday braved torrents of rain, rough roads and engine problems to transport relief to persons besieged by flooding in the Demerara River.

The relief council members left their Ruimveldt location just after 6 am and arrived at their furthest destination a few minutes after 3 pm. The hampers, which contained rice, sugar, peas and milk were shared out to villagers in Rainbow City, Linden, Malali, Butuba, Muritaro, Old England and Coomacka.

The residents in these areas are severely affected by flooding, due mainly to the heavy seasonal rainfall the country is experiencing. Some of the houses in the riverain areas are completely surrounded by water all day and night since the river has overflowed its bank and the water does not retreat. The school at Malali is also surrounded by water and this has caused classes to be suspended for some time now.

The situation is bleak as no one knows when the water will subside. And while the villagers eagerly accepted the hampers, they were aware that it was only a temporary measure. Some of the families are large and the hampers might only last them for a few days. Their farms are under water, destroying their crops and also deterring them from doing any work.

Some of the residents seemed disgruntled that the hampers were distributed one per home and not one per family. But GRC Chairman Yvonne Hinds hastened to tell them that the council was a non governmental organisation (NGO) and could only do so much.

Hinds was accompanied on the trip by GRC Vice-Chairman, Geoffrey Da Silva, Secretary Joan Sears, Treasurer Barbara Walrond, and other council members. They were joined at Linden by Deputy Regional Executive Officer, Carl Parker and members of the Coast Guard.

Getting it done

After much reversing and turning around of the guide vehicle, which at times appeared not to know where it was going, the council's entourage finally arrived at the boat landing to board the many speed boats waiting there. About three quarters of an hour later as the boats began to move off heavy rain began to fall. Engine problems struck several times and the rain played hide and seek with the sun--no sooner had members of the party started to dry off they were soaked again.

Head of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Major Ivan Alert, said yesterday that the affected areas were being monitored. He said that official reports had been received about flooding in the Corentyne River, which was being closely monitored by the CDC at the moment.

Alert said that the flooding was caused by the rains and there was no time between the tides for the water to drain off. Stabroek News understands that some 500 persons are now jobless in the upper Corentyne area because of the flood waters.

Meanwhile, Gunns Strip residents are continuing to clear the new spot identified for the relocation of the village. Regional Chairman, Muacir Baretto said yesterday that he had not yet been informed as to whether the items listed as needed by the residents had been obtained. Those items are chainsaws, fuel and building materials such as galvanised sheets. He also said that the regional administration had sent out letters and questionnaires to the 49 villages in Region Nine in order to have an official update on flooding in the region. He said that Lethem has been experiencing a reasonable amount of sun and at present the roads were dry again.

Stabroek News was unable to get an official update on the situation in Stanleytown but understands that there was no flooding in the area up to late yesterday afternoon.

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