East Coast swamped
-only one Liliendaal pump working
By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
January 5, 2004

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Persistent, heavy rainfall and poorly maintained drainage systems were cited yesterday as the prime causes for the rising floodwaters in some East Coast Demerara villages.

The situation has forced some residents to evacuate their homes.

Stabroek News toured some of these villages yesterday to assess the situation and found that at least two drainage pumps are out of operation.

There are two pumps at Liliendaal which are being maintained by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC). However, according to the assistant pump attendant, Jainarine Singh, only one of the pumps is working. He told this newspaper that the pump broke down about a month ago but repairs stalled due to the inclement weather. Stabroek News was unable to contact engineers from the M&CC on the matter. The pumps service the University of Guyana/Cummings Lodge area, Pattensen, Liliendaal, Bel Air, Blygezeigt, Sophia and South Georgetown.

Most of the areas serviced by the pumps have been flooded including the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) on the University of Guyana Access Road.

Singh said on a normal rain day the two pumps would adequately drain those areas but because of persistent rain and the malfunctioning pump the task is more difficult. When Stabroek News visited Liliendaal yesterday around 10:30 am there was a power outage in the area and as such the one functioning pump could not work. Singh mentioned that there was no backup plan whenever there was a power outage.

"We don't have a generator and for the past days we've been getting a steady blackout in this place."

He predicted however, that once the other pump was repaired and the electricity supply was regular the two pumps would adequately drain the flooded area.

Meanwhile, classes have been suspended at the CPCE until further notice because of the floods. Students resident at the CPCE who went home for the holidays reported yesterday to their dormitories only to be told that classes were postponed. The entire compound is under water and a student reported that water was also seeping through the lower flat of the dorms into some classrooms. When Stabroek News visited the CPCE yesterday afternoon some of the students were leaving while those from far-flung areas took off their shoes and waded through the water on their way to the dorms.

Stabroek News was told that the principal was expected to issue an advisory to alert students about the situation.

Sources close to the M&CC told this newspaper yesterday that one of the reasons for floods in the Liliendaal area was because there were a number of drainage canals that are badly clogged. The source said the M&CC had taken steps to clean some of the canals but the work was a huge task.

The situation at Montrose on the lower East Coast is similar to that at Liliendaal. Despite all three of the drainage pumps being in working order, the pump attendant told Stabroek News that the station had not been able to successfully drain the flooded areas. The three pumps service Success, Le Ressouvenir and other neighbouring villages. The pump attendant said since the flooding started the pumps have been working day and night. He said too that the pumping pressure was upped. According to the pump attendant the water level had dropped considerably but because of the frequent showers it had appeared as if there was no progress.

Stabroek News was told also that the three pumps were the only source of drainage in the Montrose area since most of the canals there were badly clogged.

At Beterverwagting the situation is not as bad as in the other villages even though residents reported that the Triumph drainage pump had been inoperable for several months now. Stabroek News could not confirm this since the run-down pump station was closed. At the time of this newspaper's visit the pumps were not in operation.

At Good Hope, Savitri reported that she and her family were forced to relocate temporarily due to the floods. The woman told this newspaper that the area where she resided was susceptible to flooding.

"Is every time the rain fall hard we getting flood in this place."

She said she had lost some livestock. Savitri's yard was filled with water about 12 inches deep.

"I gat to move boy dis thing hay nah go down now, is every day the rain falling."

Unlike, Savitri they are several other residents in the area who would love to move but have nowhere to go.

Floodwater was also evident in the villages of Lusignan, Buxton, North Annandale, Non Pariel and Melanie North. Other villages on the upper East Coast had reported some flooding but the drainage pumps in most of these villages are in good working order.

A release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said throughout the country several villages are experiencing flooding due to heavy rainfall but Region Four was hardest hit.

GINA also reported that President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday visited Enmore and Montrose. The release noted that the pumps in these villages are in operation around the clock and residents expressed satisfaction with the pace at which the water was receding.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board, Ravi Narine said the board was ensuring that pump stations work around the clock. He added that the pump at Enmore had the capacity to remove 60 cubic feet of water per second.

At a press conference on Friday, Head of the Meteorological Department, Dilip Jaigopaul said the rainy weather is likely to continue over the next two weeks.