Spring tides breach three parts of Buxton seawall
Emergency measures instituted By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
December 15, 2001

Parts of Buxton were inundated last evening after three sections of the village's sea defence wall crumbled under the pressure of severe spring tides.

Water from the Atlantic Ocean, bordering the country's northern coastal front, washed steadily inland following the collapse of the top part of the seawall yesterday afternoon around 3 pm.

Several areas of the sea front, including the premises of some residents were by last evening under water, while other areas will be vulnerable again once the spring tides return this morning.

Contacted by Stabroek News last evening, Public Relations Consultant in the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, Ajay Baksh, said that work had already commenced to ensure that residents of the East Coast Demerara village were not severely affected by the breach.

According to Baksh, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Anthony Xavier, was briefed on the situation and immediately dispatched a team headed by the ministry's emergency sea defence unit chief, Mahadeo Persaud, to assess the damage and take measures to avert any severe flooding in the community.

The breach, which Baksh said occurred some time around 3 pm yesterday during exceptionally high tides, saw approximately 90 ft of the upper part of the seawall fail at three points.

The sea defence emergency unit has opened several outfalls to allow for drainage of water from the community. However, no work could have been initiated at the central point of the breach, since the tide was high at the time. The team hopes that work in this area could commence this morning when the tide ebbs.

The emergency sea defence unit will undertake the task, according to the ministry's communications consultant.

Chairman of the Buxton/Foulis Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Randolph Blair, when contacted stated that he was only advised of the breach late yesterday afternoon, but had not been to the site. He said the area breached was a weak point identified by the NDC.

Residents who were on the scene, told Stabroek News last evening of waves leaping several feet high and washing over the breached sections.

According to them, many persons watched helplessly as the water freely flowed into sections of the village following the wall's collapse.

This is the second occasion that this area of the Buxton seawall has been breached. Last year, several feet of water immersed communities close to the sea front resulting in losses of livestock, cash crops and kitchen gardens. A team from the ministry's emergency sea defence unit had sealed the breach then.

Last month, a section of the East Demerara conservancy collapsed, severely flooding the village of Cane Grove. An enquiry has been set up into this failure.