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Recent flooding “a hazard impact, not national disaster”- CDC Director (ag)

Govt. Guyana
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DPI Guyana, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Several communities were flooded following recent heavy rainfall, however, according to the Acting Director of Civil Defense Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig these are all-natural hazards and have not reached a state of disaster. This, he said, is largely due to the plan and regional systems put in by the National Disaster Risk Management System.

Lieutenant Colonel Kester explained that a natural hazard may be flooding, forest fire, and drought, however, “when that hazard impacts a particular locality and causes disruption that overwhelms the community,” it can then be classified as a natural disaster.

Addressing the recent flooding, Lieutenant Colonel Craig pointed out that because of the implementation of the National Disaster Risk Management System and work undertaken regionally, communities have not been impacted by heavy flooding for prolonged periods.

Craig explained that the community of Albouystown was affected by flood waters because persons are not adhering to building codes, and littering is prevalent in the area. However, due to the drainage work conducted by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and the Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC) residents were not affected for an extended period. In Canal No.1, it was a matter of a backlog of debris in the canal, the acting director said that a long-term plan will be put in place to ensure that there is regular maintenance of the Canal.

Craig urged residents to take the necessary flood precautions and to be attentive to the Hydromet’s weather forecasts. “We find the conservancies are high but they are not at the critical level, we find that the drains are high but they are not cresting their banks, so if we have continuous rainfall for 24hrs and at the same time we have high tide, that prevents us from releasing the water. Then the situation can get very bad.”

Additionally, the CDC has been collecting data to assess the recent flooding. Minister of State Joseph Harmon and a team have conducted first-hand assessments and distributed sanitation supplies to flood-affected residents. There are also plans to do follow-up visits, and ensure systems are updated for coming weather seasons.

In 2014, the CDC began developing the Regional Disaster Risk Management System, which involves several rounds of consultations and focuses on group discussions. The three key components of the system are; risk assessments; development of Regional Multi-Hazard Preparedness and Response Plans, and the setting-up of Regional Disaster Risk Management Committees.

By the first quarter of 2018, all ten administrative regions will have completed this exercise. He said in the event of a national disaster, the management system is set in such a way, it is a ‘bottom-up system’ meaning persons at the community level are equipped to handle the situation. There are plans to establish regional centres and warehouses in each region.

By: Zanneel Williams