GUY-10: Flood losses mount in Mahaica Creek
Shabna Ulla Stabroek News mayo 2007
Residents of the Upper Mahaica Creek, who have been affected by over three and a half feet of floodwater in their farms and homes, have already lost a lot of their produce and are bracing for the worst.
Since last Wednesday, the water level started rising though it dropped by a few inches yesterday. Residents are worried that the East Demerara Water Conservancy dam could come under pressure and that this would force the release of water via the Lama and Maduni sluices thereby intensifying the flooding. Residents said they were aware that if the dam broke the entire East Coast would be flooded and admitted that it would be better "to blow the water in Mahaica Creek." They recalled that during the last flood the water was about five feet in their yards.
The residents mostly affected are those from the Joe Hook and Grass Hook areas, where residents are engaged in rearing cattle and other livestock as well as cash crop, provision and fruit farming. Residents have cut logs to make rafts for their stocks.
Because of the constant flooding, government has started to prepare land to relocate the farmers. (See other story on page 13.) A medical team from the army visited the area yesterday and members of the Coast Guard were also expected to deliver food hampers to residents.
Diamattie "Sandra" Ramoutar said she had to put her chickens on a table to keep them out of the water, while her ducks were making the most of the extra water.
The woman, who sells her produce at the Mahaica Market, said she lost all her carilla and bora. She said she took credit to invest in the crop and is worried about being unable to repay her debts.
She said that in the meantime she, like farmer Harrylall Mahadeo, has resorted to catching fish and selling them as an alternative. They said though that because the water is "big" the catch is not always that good.
Apart from the water destroying her produce, Ramoutar is afraid that caimans and snakes, which she has noticed lurking around as a result of the flood, would attack her ducks. She recalled that during the last flood the reptiles "destroy a lot of me ducks when they go out to swim."
Doodnauth Roopnarine who lost all of his produce including cucumbers and watermelons said he has nothing to do besides "sit and eat what ah gat left and think what next to do to mek a living."
He said that while the rainfall is causing the flood, he is also blaming it on the flood embankment that government built on the right side of Mahaica River near Biaboo canal earlier this year.
He said while the empoldering is helping to "prevent flooding on the other side, them leff we in a hole." Roopnarine recalled that when the area was flooded last year it had entered his kitchen in the lower flat and he had to relocate it temporarily to the upper flat. He is afraid that the same would happen again this time.
This newspaper caught up with Ramkissoon who was paddling upstream in his canoe. He said he has already lost all of his ground provisions and had gone to cut "round wood fuh put me dog pen higher."
Ganga Persaud Sarju is also counting the loss of his cash crop, ground provisions, and 400 roots of watermelon. He said, "me punish to get some new sucker plants and all of them dying out. Me 300 roots cassava under water and me had to reap some before the time but the rest soak too long in the water and get black."
The man said when he invested in this crop, he was not afraid of flooding since they were never affected at this time of the year. He said the area was normally flooded in January and after that did not happen this year, he felt it would have been safe to plant.
He is nevertheless pleased that the government provided machinery during last month for three weeks to assist farmers in building "high spots." He said he and other farmers could not have afforded to do it on their own.
Sarju built the land up four times in the past but he said the work was not good enough and he was still affected.
He is praying that government would not have the cause to release water from the canals or farmers would have to get a lot more help.
Greece national, Vlachakis Zacharias had invested in 225 acres of land for a "multi farm" in the creek seven years ago. He said after being affected by severe flooding in 2005 he spent a lot of money to build up 100 acres of his land and the other 125 would have to be done after the flood.
The man who rears chickens and pigs among other livestock said he is using a lot of diesel to pump water off his land daily and said if the rain continues he would need about 30 drums to keep his land dry. He has also installed three kokers for drainage and irrigation.
The man is also in the process of preparing a fish farm to rear "Sweet Water Packoo."
According to him in 2005, the flood killed 7,000 fruit trees and all of his livestock. He pointed out that during that flood he provided free transportation to deliver food hampers and other help to residents.
But he is disappointed that when government provided machinery to assist farmers in the area to build their embankment, the contractors did not see it fit to help him out as well. He said the machinery was close to his farm and even though he asked for help, he did not get any.
Zacharias said though, that he loves the Mahaica and would continue to develop it and provide employment to residents. He would not let the flood deter him and said he is just saddened "at the attitude of the machine operators."
Hemchand Harripersaud, who plants 250 acres of rice at Big Biaboo and Number Ten Village, Mflooahaica said his rice is already covered in two feet of water. He is spending $24,000 a day to pump the water out and is afraid that if the rain continues his efforts would go to waste and he would lose his crop.
He said because of the constant flooding in the area he is unable to save any money since all of it has to go back for the other crop.
Livestock farmer, Bissoondial Ramrup of Big Biaboo said the area where he has his cattle and sheep ranch is flooded and his animals have no grass and "dem punishing." He said he has to leave them on the dam to graze, but he feels that soon the water would reach there too.
He is pleased that government made a new road in the area. But he said the "contractors did not put in tube across the river bank and the road. They put four tubes in an area that don't even need tubes. If they had shared the tubes in the other areas the water woulda come across the road in the Poor Fellow Canal." Because of this, he said "the entire Biaboo area flood out."
He said the embankment at the canal is caving in and he is asking for an emergency excavator to rebuild parts of the embankment.