Flood high alert continues
- GPL Versailles station re-powered
Guyana Chronicle
March 2, 2002

Related Links: Articles on Seawall, Defenses, and Floods
Letters Menu Archival Menu

THE Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) reported that its power plant at Versailles, West Bank Demerara was back in operation yesterday after it was shut down Thursday night because of flood waters from continuing excessive high tides.

The plant shutdown blacked out most of the West Coast Demerara and East Bank Essequibo but the company said power was restored shortly after noon yesterday after checks showed there was not much water damage and it was safe to re-power the plant.

But the continuing tides posed other threats along the coast and emergency crews from the Public Works and Communications Ministry maintained high alert at several vulnerable points in the sea and river defence systems.

Flooding was reported in some areas on the Corentyne, Berbice and Wellington Park and Bush Lot were among those more seriously affected by overtopping.

Several villagers reportedly had to evacuate their homes Thursday because of the rising flood waters.

However, Head of the Sea Defence Unit of the ministry, Mr. Mahadeo Persaud told the Chronicle there was no breach in that area.

He explained that because of the current high tides and recent heavy rains in the area, a "huge swelling of water" was created which overflowed the shell embankment dam.

Persaud said emergency crews were working valiantly at Henrietta and Phoenix on Leguan island in the Essequibo River to raise the level of the sea dam to prevent water getting into cultivated areas and residences.

There has been some improvement in the situation since work began a few days ago, he added.

Some 2,000 more sandbags were sent yesterday to shore up the defences on the island, he said.

He said that overall, the situation was under control and there was no need for panic.

Persaud said the tides should begin receding to normal levels by tomorrow.

The situation at Wellington Park and Bush Lot was worsened by erosion of the dam which has caused its level to drop, he said.

He said the dam eroded faster because farmers cleared it of vegetation to plant watermelons and other cash crops, and the texture of the soil is sandy.

Persaud is appealing to farmers to desist from cultivating on the shell embankment dam along the foreshore as this is contributing to erosion which is detrimental in the long- term.

He said emergency crews and sand, clay and cement have been sent to the affected areas to raise the levels of the dams in an effort to stem the flow of water.

In addition, the alignment for raising the level of the dam was carried out about a month ago and a dragline will be deployed to the area to help in this exercise, he told the Chronicle.

Persaud said that at Bush Lot/Maida a section of a revetment collapsed because of the heavy overtopping, but work is ongoing to restore a measure of normalcy.

He reported that at No. 76 Village, a desilting exercise by the Guyana Sugar Corporation which apparently was carried out too close to the koker, resulted in it being undermined. As a result, the koker is rotating and therefore is dysfunctional, he said.

However, the design for a new structure has been completed and work is to start shortly.

GPL yesterday said much of the water receded overnight at its Versailles site and the mopping up operation commenced early yesterday morning.

It said a team, including the Generation Manager and Electro-Mechanical engineers carried out a careful and necessary assessment of all electrical equipment in the station to determine the extent of water damage.

"Limited water seepage was detected and rectified and the station re-powered at mid-day", GPL said.

Several businesses at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara which were also closed on Wednesday because of rising flood waters, have since reopened.

An official said the high tides being experienced are the highest since 1993 when a similar situation resulted in flooding in several areas on the East Coast Demerara.

A similar high tide is predicted for March 29, he said. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)