Water-logged couple left high and not so dry By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
January 6, 2004

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No joy! Bibi Khan of Felicity, East Coast Demerara, steps out of her bottom-flat apartment which is now overtaken with water. Her husband Ronald Reis is asking for someone to help them. (Ken Moore photo)

"I have nowhere to go, me and my wife all our stuff soak up in this place and the water is here so long it begin to smell stink," says Ronald Reis a resident of Lot 23 Felicity, Railway Embankment, East Coast Demerara.

A Stabroek News team was heading up the upper East Coast when unbelievably the driver saw Reis and his wife Bibi Khan comfortably seated on two chairs in their bottom flat house amidst water some 12 inches deep.

"Why are you still in this place?" this newspaper asked only to be told by Reis that they had nowhere to go.

"We come and live hay about two years now and nothing like this ever happen, all dem years this place getting flood, but nothing like this," Reis said.

He mentioned that since last Wednesday the water around him began to rise, but he did not panic since he had trusted the drainage systems.

But on Friday the water level rose higher, yet Reis said he was not fearful until the water began to seep through his one-bedroom flat.

"All this time dis place deh good, all of a sudden when we sleep and wake up Saturday morning the whole place flood out."

With no other options the couple sent their only child to stay at a relative and are now battling the flood all alone.

Their bed was still neatly made up over the water and food was on the boil.

Reis related that since the floods came they were forced to prop-up their bed, refrigerator and wardrobe so as to prevent them from being damaged. But he said his three-piece suite was damaged along with a large quantity of groceries, floral arrangements and floor mats.

The pit latrine was mercifully still on high ground but with the rate at which the water was rising that too could be submerged. Reis wants help in finding a place to stay for the time being.

He said he had a piece of land at Mon Repos but that was also flooded.

The situation at Felicity was affecting not only Reis but several other households were under water. The area is being serviced by the Montrose drainage pumps, all three of which are in good working order.

Leaving Felicity, Stabroek News stopped at Supply, Mahaica where a one-legged livestock farmer bemoaned the loss of eight piglets worth some $24,000 due to the floods. Dhankumarie Beepat of Lot 17, Supply, Mahaica, told this newspaper yesterday that recently one of her sows gave birth to 12 piglets, eight of which drowned in their sty.

She said that one of the main drainage canals in the area was recently blocked by regional officials to facilitate the extension of the Mahaica market, a decision which she deemed counterproductive. According to Beepat, even though the drainage pumps were reportedly working around the clock she had not seen any improvement in the situation since everyday the water level was rising.

Beepat added that the water had now crept into her downstairs apartment. She related that because of the floods she was forced to lead her cattle into the savannahs, loose her donkeys on the streets and was now searching for a place to secure her livestock.

"Things really hard here for me because dis water ain't going down. Look at this place, look how much water in this yard," Bibi exclaimed.

This newspaper sought comments from two of the major disaster response units, the Guyana Relief Council (GRC) and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), but was unable to make contact with the GRC. However, Major Lawrence Duncan, acting commissioner of the CDC said at the moment they were monitoring the situation. He told this newspaper that the CDC worked as a co-ordinating body in event of national disaster and could not get involved in the flood situation until they received directives from the Head of the Presidential Secretariat. Duncan said whichever area was being affected had to be first declared a disaster area at which point the CDC would co-ordinate a national response.

He said should the situation spiral out of control the CDC was adequately prepared and ready to deal with it.