Georgetown, Guyana – (May 19, 2017) The Government through the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) will be establishing a Forward Operations Centre at Orinduik, Potaro –Siparuni (Region Eight) as it continues to render assistance to bring relief to those affected by the severe flooding in Kaibarupai, Sand Hill, Chenapou, Waipa and surrounding areas in Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight), as a result of the overtopping of several rivers, including the Ireng river. The base is expected to be operational by midday tomorrow.

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, convened an emergency meeting at the Ministry of the Presidency with Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, Director General of the CDC, Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, Regional Chairman of Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight), Mr. Bonventure Fredericks and other agencies to coordinate the government’s response, which is being led by the CDC.

During that meeting, Colonel Ramsarup said that the CDC has conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the affected areas. However, the aircraft was unable to land due to the airstrips being inundated with water. He noted that the only available place to land at this time is at Chenapou, which is the least affected community.

As such, a total of three flights with supplies were dispatched today to Chenapou and Orinduik. With the Operations Centre now being set up, relief supplies and flood kits will be transported by boat to the other affected villages, which are inaccessible by air. An additional four flights with food and relief supplies will be dispatched to Chenapou and Orinduik tomorrow.

Minister Harmon in addressing the attendees in today’s meeting reminded that President David Granger has instructed that every available resource be utilised to bring relief to the residents in the Region.

“We need action at this time and our response must be timely and it must be seen that we are taking the necessary steps. As the President says, there is no place like a far, far place in Guyana. We must get to every community, we must reach out to every citizen. We have to place value on everyone’s lives and if something happens, it should affect us all,” Minister Harmon said.

He further noted that the Government will take all the steps necessary to ensure that the lives and livelihood of the persons affected by the flooding will be brought to normalcy in as short time as possible.

“The government deeply empathizes with the residents who have suffered losses and dislocation as a result of this very unfortunate and unusual flooding. The government commits all the necessary resources to ensure that relief is brought to every single resident in every affected community,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Cummings said that a team of Ministry of Public Health officials comprising representatives from the Epidemiology Department, Surveillance Department, Environmental Health Department, Regional Health Services Department Vector Control Department, Disease Control Department along with a representative of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is preparing to visit the affected villages. This team will support the work being done by the regional health team, which is already in the affected areas.

Reports from the region are that the village of Kaibarupai has not suffered flooding previously while the level of flooding in other villages far exceeds previous situations of minor flooding. The villages are located mainly in valley areas where the water from the excessive rainfall pooled and resulted in the excessive flooding. Villagers have relocated to higher ground in close proximity to the various villages.

Thus far, there have been no reported deaths, missing persons or serious injuries. However, the Ministry of Public Health has received reports of some cases of diarrhoea in the village of Chenapau.

Regional Chairman, Mr. Fredericks said that this is the first time that the village has experienced such levels of flooding. However, he noted that Government’s intervention, particularly at the Ministerial level, must be noted and appreciated.

“The Government has responded and it is heartening to know that the Government is working to bring relief to our residents,” he said.

The villages of Kaibarupai, Waipa, Chenapou and Sand Hill settlement have all been inundated with floods levels reportedly reaching a depth of ten to twenty five feet in some locations.

Information received from the reconnaissance, the Guyana Defence Force Patrol and the Police at Orinduik indicated that in Kaibaurpai, inundation is at an approximate depth of 10 feet. Two houses have been washed away and the health post, church and cemetery are all under water. This village has a population of approximately 200 persons while in Sand Hill, the inundation is about 25 feet with five houses washed away and 10 houses under water.

Waipa has reported that 95 percent of the village is flooded with the water depth estimated to be between 5-15 feet and 15 houses are under water in Chenapou.

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