Systems in place to deal with heavy rainfall predicted for May-June By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
April 20, 2007

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CABINET Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday assured that the Government is fully prepared and have systems in place to deal with a possible flood situation during the upcoming May-June rainy season.

This assurance came in the wake of projections there might be higher than usual tides and a 40% upsurge over the average rainfall during the May-June season.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the President, Luncheon said the most recent projections on the weather conditions in the Western Hemisphere, based on likely events in the Pacific, suggest an increased intensity and duration of rainfall.

He said the impact of this on Guyana could see “as much as 40% upsurge over the average rainfall patterns in the May-June season”.

“Also to be anticipated are higher tides than usual,” Luncheon said, adding that these projections were brought to the attention of Cabinet at its meeting this week by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud.

He said Minister Persaud also advised Cabinet about the “heightened attention” being paid by state agencies and departments in response to these revelations.

“Cabinet monitoring bodies remain activated and based on the results of the recent rehearsal exercise, surveillance activity of the most vulnerable areas have been strengthened mostly through improvements in communications, observations and measurements,” Luncheon told reporters.

He said work is also continuing apace to advance the operational and the response capabilities of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).

In this regard, he said the Timehri Warehouse is fully staffed and up-and-running with supplies and equipment for emergencies, evacuations and shelter management, while the Thomas Lands Hatchery now maintains a small stock of supplies as it houses the staff of the CDC.

“Thanks to support from the United States Government, the regional body CEDERA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a well trained national complement of disaster-response functionaries have been put in place,” Luncheon assured.

Luncheon said, too, that the Government is awaiting the report from the Venezuelan team that carried out a technical study here a few months ago with regard to the dredging of the Pomeroon, Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary rivers .

Luncheon acknowledged that the lessons learnt from the 2005 and 2006 floods in Guyana have forced the government into “making better preparations”.

He noted that while there is still a “small window to do quite a bit more preparatory work, a tremendous amount of preparatory work has already been done.”

In January 2005, torrential rains caused serious flooding along the coastal region, the most densely populated area of Guyana.

As a result, the Government declared Regions 3 (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) and Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) disaster areas.

The coastal stretch between the capital Georgetown and Mahaica on the East Bank of the Demerara River was particularly hit.

The flooding affected around 290,000 people, around 39% of Guyana’s population, and was described as the greatest disaster to hit Guyana in the last century.

In January last year, the government declared the Pomeroon and Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary (MMA) as disaster areas, following widespread inundation that overwhelmed flood control mechanisms that were in place at the time.