Floods Strike in Georgetown and Northern Regions of Guyana

Heavy rainfall since Wednesday 15 July 2015 has resulted in flooding in at least three regions of Guyana, including the capital Georgetown. WMO report that 127.5 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 15 and 16 July 2015.

According to official reports, the northern coastal regions of Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region 3), Demerara-Mahaica (Region 4), including Georgetown, and Mahaica-Berbice (Region 5) are the worst affected.

Power outages have been reported and radio and television stations have been knocked off the air. Schools and other educational establishments including the University of Guyana, have cancelled classes.

An aerial inspection of the affected areas showed that particularly badly hit are the communities of Den Amstel, Leonora and Uitvlugt in Region 3 and areas between Ogle and Buxton in Region 4, as well as Georgetown.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said yesterday that all sluices, pumps and drainage canals are in working order. He added that teams from his department are able to provide immediate emergency services if the need arises and that the possibility of getting additional pumps from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority is being considered.

Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, announced that shelters have been set up for residents who are affected.

National Emergency Operations Centre

Guyana’s “National Emergency Operations Centre” has been activated as a response to the flooding.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said, “It’s an unusual situation and therefore we have to think and act outside of the box. We cannot have a normal reaction and that is why under my direction the national emergency operation centre was activated… this is what they were created to do and that is why we will utilise all of the resources, not just state resources but all of the others, stakeholders, civil society to deal with this situation.”

Damage Assessment Using Social Media – Citizen-Mapping of the Flood

The total losses and the total number of persons affected by flooding are yet to be determined. One tool the National Emergency Operations Centre is using to gather data for that assessment is social media.

According to GINA, the Guyana News Agency, residents in affected areas are being asked to share photos of flooded areas and information on to the level of the flood water in their areas or homes, any health problems being experienced, the level of nearby canals and the extent of damages they have experienced or witnessed.

These can be shared on the Facebook pages of the NEOC, Habitat for Humanity, The Guyana Red Cross Society and the Civil Defence Commission.

Flooded streets of Georgetown, Guyana, July 2015. Photo: GINA
Flooded streets of Georgetown, Guyana, July 2015. Photo: GINA