Disaster strikes twice in Three Friends, Maria Elizabeth

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…as reservoir collapses causing massive flooding  

By Svetlana Marshall 

Natasha Garraway standing in the flood waters at Maria Elizabeth

Residents of Three Friends Mines and Maria Elizabeth have been forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge on higher ground as flooding in the communities worsen.

Natasha Garraway, a resident, told Village Voice Newspaper that for more than a month residents of Three Friends and Maria Elizabeth have been hard hit by floods attributed to the inclement weather, however, the situation quickly deteriorated on Thursday (June 17) when a water reservoir in the East Montgomery Mines collapsed causing other areas including the main access road to be flooded.

“We don’t have a road now, we have a river, the situation is bad,” Garraway told this newspaper even as she was paddling her 90-year-old grandmother Josephine Croft out of Maria Elizabeth to Wismar, Linden.

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Garraway explained that her grandmother’s home is severely flooded, and with sections of the main access road now covered in water, access to food and drinking water has been cut off.

“Buses are no longer coming in here anymore. We have to travel by boat up to a point then catch a bus to get out,” Garraway explained even as she braved the weather to make her way out of the flood affected area.

Another resident of Maria Elizabeth, Anita Croft, told this newspaper that in addition to her yard being flooded, her layer chickens are getting sick. “Nine have already died, the water is making them sick,” she complained.

According to her, she had a total of 120 layer chickens. “I have three chicken pens with layers and all are in water,” she added while expressing fear that more will die if they are not relocated.

Her relative, Rita Croft, who also lives in Maria Elizabeth, said before the reservoir collapsed last Thursday, 47 houses were affected by the floods attributed to the incessant rainfall but with the breakage of the reservoir more houses are affected.

Other sections of the flood affected community of Maria Elizabeth

She said last Thursday they were caught off-guard. “It was around 7 o’clock Thursday night, people heard this loud, loud noise, like if rain coming. So everybody believe it was rain but when them look outside was this water rushing in,” Croft recalled.

She added: “It come just suh sudden, no body ain’t had time to save nothing, one girl who had a shop, everything flood out.”

Croft explained that some residents have left their homes and are now being sheltered at the ‘Club House’ in the community while others are staying with relatives. She said there is need for food, water, long boots and cleaning detergents among other items.

When Village Voice News contacted the Region 10 Regional Executive Officer (REO), Dwight John on Saturday, he was making his way via boat to the flood affected to communities. At the time he was taking in food hampers.

The Croft Family preparing to leave Maria Elizabeth

On Friday, he had also visited Three Friends and Maria Elizabeth along with officials from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the situation.

After walking for hours, the officials with the help of residents detected the source of the breakage. It is believed that the reservoir belongs to Bosai Minerals Group Guyana Inc. (BMGGI), however, the company has denied ownership.

“We followed the water source and we found the breach that is causing the flooding,” John told the residents. John said too that had the relevant authority maintained the reservoir, the breach would have never occurred.

He informed residents that within days NDIA with the use of excavators will fix the breach. “With that happening, the water here will drop considerably until it dies away completely,” the REO assured the residents. He said the government will also be providing other support to both residents and farmers who have been affected.

 

Residents of Maria Elizabeth making their way out of the community (INFO 10 photo)



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