Gov’t assisting flood hit South Rupununi farmers as water recedes

Flood waters continue to recede in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), however efforts will now be focused on helping farmers, as several villages report severe damage to crops.

Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal and Regional Executive Officer (REO) Karl Singh led a team on a flood assessment of several communities in the deep south Rupununi, over the weekend.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal speaks to a resident

On Saturday the team visited the community of Bashaizon, said to be one of the hardest hit by the flood. The team distributed food hampers to the more than 30 families who suffered from loss of crops.

Toshao Sidwell Johnson was among those who expressed appreciation for the items. He told DPI that the assistance is timely, as the flood left many persons with ‘nothing.’

On Sunday the team met residents of Shea, Aishalton and Karaudarnau where concerns were raised regarding the flooding and other issues affecting the communities.

Speaking with DPI following the assessment, Minister Croal said he was pleased that the water was receding at a rapid rate. However, the farms were most affected.

“The entire region in the farming area, mainly is currently affected, and that’s because where their farms are located is low land, many of them are at the mountain foot or where there is a water stream, river flowing etc., so that’s why they are vulnerable,” Minister Croal said.

The minister is maintaining his presence in the region. He was expected to meet with the regional task force on Monday to further assess the situation.

Residents meet with Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal

“The efforts therefore now have to deal with persons who are affected in terms of their farming, “he noted.

Minister Croal said 91 persons are occupying three shelters in Lethem. The number has significantly decreased from the 150 persons who were earlier in four shelters.

“Nationally, and from a government level, the next focus obviously will have to address persons who will be unable to return to the farming activities obviously because it’s still water-soaked and for a prolonged period,” Minister Croal said.

Village leaders will provide the taskforce with more detailed information from the affected villages.

The flood in Region Nine began close to a week ago, when water quickly rose, inundating homes, roads, bridges and farmlands and cutting off road access to St. Ignatius.

Minister Croal has been on the ground assessing the situation since Thursday.

Several toshaos and residents expressed appreciation for governments’ quick response and handling of the situation.