More flood threats in Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 29, 2008 – More communities across Guyana are being threatened as heavy rainfall pounds the country and worsens the situation in areas still under water for nearly two weeks.

“We have had a worsening of the situation with the rainfall in many parts of the country, especially in Berbice,” President Bharrat Jagdeo said as concern mounted throughout the country’s ten regions. “We have to keep a watch on what’s going on and ensure that we respond the best we could.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and supporting agencies are undertaking critical interventions to drain accumulated water in vulnerable, low-lying communities that have been affected and prevent barriers from being breached. The measures include cleaning and clearing drains, excavating and cleaning drainage canals, deploying pumps and other mechanical drainage equipment, rising river dams, constructing embankments, and cleaning sluices.

The East Demerara Water Conservancy Commission reported that it has had to release water through the Maduni Sluice into the Mahaica Creek – in Region Five – “as a last resort to avoid a major catastrophe”.

The Ministry of Health has also dispatched several health teams to provide medical services to areas which are affected by the intense rainfall.

However, Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy has insisted that reports coming from the various teams in the field since December 2nd indicate that there is no need for panic. He said a team is on standby at the Ministry in the event of an emergency.

Dr Ramsammy told a press conference over the weekend that 51 per cent of those seen by the medical personnel were treated for Acute Respiratory Infection, 33 per cent for skin conditions and three to five per cent for vomiting and diarrhoea.

There have also been concerns about leptospirosis since the incidence of that disease increases with heavy rainfall. The Health Minister said health officials were monitoring two suspected cases and would continue to keep a close eye on the situation.