Flood aid mapped out
Relief council to manage Region Ten

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
July 1, 2000

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) along with other agencies was expected by last night to have planned the relief expenditure for all the regions in the country affected by flooding.

Government has allocated $100 million for this purpose.

This was announced by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, at his weekly press conference yesterday. He said that for Region Nine the emergency expenditure had already been identified by the CDC. The Guyana Relief Council (GRC) has been asked to manage Region Ten and it has already been given a portion of the allocated money to begin the relief exercise.

The country is experiencing its most severe rainfall in a long time and some seven regions have been flooded. But Dr Luncheon is adamant that the situation at the moment is well under the control of the government.

Some of the money would be used to purchase medical supplies for the affected areas, while some would be made available for the relief of hard-pressed households. Agriculture and animal husbandry have also been included.

And President Bharrat Jagdeo explained to villagers on the East Coast Demerara who are hard hit by the flooding that the country's drainage system was never designed to take this amount of heavy rainfall and the conservancies could only store so much water.

The President along with ministers of Agriculture and Local Government, Reepu Daman Persaud and Harripersaud Nokta visited Enmore, Haslington and Golden Grove. The other areas affected by the overtopping of the East Demerara Conservancy are Victoria and Nabaclis.

It was learnt that the water had receded some eight inches, giving the villagers some measure of relief. Several pumps in the areas were in action.

Through the assistance of the Enmore Estate which deployed pumps in the area some residents have experienced immediate relief.

One resident, Joseph Anthony, told the President that they were very satisfied with the work the government was doing and commended the Ministry of Health for the alacrity with which it dispatched workers into the affected areas to assist with medical problems. The residents commended the cooperation of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) and hoped that there would be continued help.

The President was inundated with questions from the residents as to why the government, knowing that the conservancy had on more than one occasion been breached, had not overhauled it. He patiently told the villagers that to do that it would cost the government some US$300 million and noted that it was a very "big project."

On the completion of his tour the head of state told reporters that his visit had confirmed that the areas were the hardest hit on the East Coast. He told the villagers that presently they would be helped with medical problems and after the water had receded the CDC would do an assessment of the area and would assist them.

Although the drainage and irrigation system was not designed to take the heavy rainfall the country was experiencing, President Jagdeo acknowledged that there had been a lack of maintenance in some areas. He did not specify the areas, but it was hinted that these were among those now experiencing chronic flooding.

He said that the government was already looking at ways to improve drainage and irrigation and suggested that the country might have to revert to some of the old methods and plant vegetation to keep out flood waters. "The flood situation in our country is bad, but we are lucky that we have not lost any lives as has happened in other countries," the President said.

And farmers in Black Bush Polder and Number 63 Village are also complaining about flooding which has totally destroyed their fields.

At a meeting with Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, held at the Black Bush Secondary School on Thursday farmers asked that the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) be made to help them alleviate some of their troubles. They said that there was so much more the two agencies could do to help the water to recede by maintaining the drainage and irrigation system. They also complained about not being properly compensated for their losses as those in authority had given relief supplies to persons of their choice.

Sawh suggested that the farmers go into the NDC and RDC and give them a list of their losses and the officials in turn would visit their farms and homes to confirm the report.

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