Buxton sea defence breach
Waves defeat remedial work
Stabroek News
December 16, 2001

Attempts at remedial work at the site of one of the three breaches on the Buxton/Friendship/Vigilance seawall failed yesterday as tides returned by midday, curtailing work for the day.

Workers from the sea defence unit under the guidance of its head, Mahadeo Persaud, had attempted to put a cap on the area with the largest breach, in the Friendship part of the wall, when tides aided by high winds began returning.

Stabroek News observed the freshly erected portion of wall gradually being eroded as waves from the Atlantic Ocean, which washes the country's northern shores, intensified, aided by a strong north-easterly breeze.

Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Anthony Xavier, was expected to visit the site some time yesterday to view first hand the extent of the damage to the wall and oversee remedial work being undertaken by the ministry's crew.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said in a release yesterday that work was continuing apace to stem the breach in the sea defence.

According to the release, project engineer of the sea defence unit, Mike Lall, outlined measures being taken to minimize the possibility of flooding. These included the digging of some drains to take off some of the water and also the clearing of culverts.

This was evident during the visit by Stabroek News yesterday, where it was observed that the water level had dropped significantly from the previous evening, when it had covered parts of Brush Dam road.

Meanwhile, areas immediately behind the wall which were inundated on Friday afternoon when the breaches occurred had by yesterday been drained via a series of cuts made in some of the dams constructed to block the water's passage to neighbouring residential areas.

The release said that Lall had indicated that the largest of the breaches measuring some 67 feet was expected to be sealed by Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning. The other two measuring 57 feet and 27 feet respectively will be fully closed before the end of the week.

Stabroek News had visited the site early yesterday morning but there was no sign of any remedial work. Work at the site commenced a few hours later with the sea defence team constructing a boulder wall to attempt to ease the flow of seawater on the neighbouring community.

However, this structure began crumbing shortly after, under the pressure of the incoming tide, which was expected to rise to some 15 ft by afternoon before receding to return six hours later.

A team, including Regional Chairman, Alan Munroe and Sea Defence Chief, George Howard, and other officials visited the site yesterday morning to access the vulnerability of the structure. A tour of the wall revealed sections that seemed likely to be vulnerable to severe lashing from waves during high tide.

In the GINA release, the engineer had pointed to the present weather pattern, which he described as unusual, as possibly contributing to the breach. The wall is believed to be over 40 years old and according to the engineer it would be hard to say what was going on inside.

In addition to sealing the breached areas, boulders will be placed on the seaward side to break the force of the waves. Some areas already have boulders on the seaward side, which reduce the wear and tear on the aging wall. Chairman of the Buxton/ Foulis, Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Randolph Blair, had told this newspaper that many areas along the area's seawall showed clear evidence of weakness. Last year November, a section of the wall close to one of the present breaches had given away causing flooding in the area.

Residents of the area, according to the GINA release, have not reported any losses. One resident stated that the tide was not expected to rise any higher, but to reduce in days to come. It was a frequent occurrence to have overtopping of waves once the water was very high, another stated.