Mounting a close flood watch Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
June 6, 2002

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FLOODS from heavy rains have been taking a heavy toll in Jamaica where several people have died and sections of the island declared disaster areas.

Other countries in the region have also suffered serious losses, including people dying, from floods and the news from some areas further afield has been even worse.

Heavy rains here have also triggered flooding in Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Four (Demerara/Mahaica) and Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) and it was reported that Cabinet Tuesday approved additional funding to address flooding caused by heavy rainfall in these areas.

The Government says residential and farming communities have been mostly affected in these three regions and emergency drainage and irrigation and river and sea defence works are reportedly under way to ease the impact of the flooding.

Floods can be devastating, especially in coastal farming communities and they have taken a heavy toll in the past in some of these areas.

It is essential therefore that a close watch be maintained on vulnerable areas around the country to avoid the kind of disasters besetting other countries.

Essential initial interventions are under way with the emergency works being undertaken and with the relevant State agencies and regional bodies tasked with continuous monitoring of the situation.

The obvious climate changes around the globe have made it difficult to accurately predict weather behaviour and the responsible authorities have to be on constant alert and with contingency plans clearly mapped out to cope with emergencies.

Much work has been done since the strengthening of the Civil Defence Commission some years ago and there are several organisations with the experience and resources to help should the need arise.

What is important is that responsible officials and agencies around the country are not caught off-guard as has happened before.

There are warning signs enough in other countries in the region and in the drastic weather changes for all those involved to ensure that they are on the proper footing to cope with eventualities.

Limited resources are an obvious inhibiting factor but being forewarned is being forearmed and the ready responses directed by the Cabinet this week show that the matter has been engaging the highest levels of the Government.

The Guyana coast is below sea level and much work still has to be done to properly shore up the critical sea and river defences and these pose additional difficulties for the agencies responsible.

With these conditions and the threat from persistent heavy rains, the entire nation has to be on close watch at times like this.

It would help if communities closely monitor sea and river defences to ensure these remain in good shape and to quickly alert the authorities to any signs of weakness or slippage in the structures.

Drainage and irrigation is also critical to flood control on the coast and it is essential that the system is maintained in proper shape to be able to function properly in emergency situations.