Persaud details precautions against flooding as rains continue By Shawnel Cudjoe
Guyana Chronicle
January 19, 2007

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THE Hydromet Department has forecast that rainfall will continue over the next five days but with decreased intensity, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Robert Persaud said yesterday.

He made the disclosure when briefing the media, in his Vlissengen Road, Georgetown Office, about current weather conditions and precautions against flooding.

“With about 58 inches of rainfall, so far, I think our drainage system has performed creditably but we are not out of the rainy season as yet and we need constant vigilance,” Persaud warned.

He said emergency work is being done on the Boeraserie conservancy and aback of Hope Estate, East Coast Demerara, where water has accumulated.

Persaud said the Hope outfall was desilted about one month ago, at a cost of $1.5M, but it is blocked again and a Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) pump will be used to do the draining.

He said his ministry will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days and hotlines have been established for persons to call in.

“…so we can move quickly if there is need for additional intervention,” the minister said, alluding to at atmoshpere of “nervousness” after the experience two years ago.

Persaud admonished people to be careful and make sure they do not contribute to the blocking of canals in any way, especially by dumping garbage.

He said one of the pumps on East Coast Demerara was out of order for more than a week because it was damaged by an old tyre dumped in a canal.

Meanwhile, Persaud said that the government, with support from international agencies, spent close to $5 billion, over the past two years, to improve the country’s drainage system and prevent, at all costs, a repeat of the January 2005 devastating floods.

He said the drainage capabilities have been expanded with the installation of more pumps to avoid reliance on tidal movements alone.

“We don’t have to depend on tidal drainage only as we have drainage around the clock, once there is that accumulation in our canals,” Persaud said.

He said, in addition, about one dozen more pumps have been installed along the East Coast Demerara, one of the areas most affected by the 2005 flooding and they are all in working order, as well as sluices which were inoperable then.

In 2005, the country experienced the highest percentage of rainfall in more than a century over a two weeks period.

Persaud said efforts are being made, as well, to tighten management of the sluices and, over the past weeks, he has been speaking about the need for Regional Administrations to be more vigilant and much more “on the ball” to ensure those mechanisms are opened on time and pumps run as they should.

He said massive infrastructure works were carried out in Region Four, particularly along the East Coast Demerara and the capabilities in other vulnerable places, such as in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Mahaicony, Mahaica and Abary areas, have been strengthened.

Persaud said, for Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), close to $790M worth of equipment was purchased and will contribute significantly to drainage works.

He said, after two years, considerable progress has been made in enhancing drainage capacity and works are still ongoing at the East Demerara Water Conservancy.