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– 45 families relocated, three buildings collapse – Schools closed until further noticeBy Kristen Macklingam & Keeran SinghResidents in Region Nine are now faced with a major crisis and are in panic mode after being forced to relocate to higher grounds with the continuous overflowing of the Takutu River coupled with incessant rainfall.Due to the water rising about 20 inches between Saturday night and early yesterday morning residents in Lethem are now without electricity as the Lethem Power Company is in a terrible state with water accumulating to over 4.5 feet causing its transformer and power cable(s) to become flooded out.Though the weather conditions in the Rupununi, Region Nine proved to be fair yesterday with little rainfall in comparison to previous days, this did not prevent the water levels at the creeks and rivers from rising.Kaieteur News understands that the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph (GT&T) company which runs parallel to the electricity company is presently surrounded by sand-bags and some residents are ‘bailing out water’ from the building in an effort to ensure that their communication system is not affected by the heavy rainfalls or flooding.Currently the GT&T building has three water pumps operational with dimensions of two, three and four inches, assisting to pump the water out of the exchange while more sand-bags are being brought in to build a defense system against the rising waters.According to GT&T’s Lethem Manager, John Fredericks, the company is “trying to elevate the turbine at the station” so as to prevent the water from flooding or damaging these essential pieces of equipment.He said that GT&T is focusing on maintaining its communication so that messages could be relayed in and out of the affected areas.Minister of Public Works & Communication, Robeson Benn,Nike Shoes Sale Online Australia, who has been in Region Nine since Saturday, stated that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds arrived at Lethem via aircraft yesterday with a large supply of cots, blankets and chlorine materials for the relocated families.He explained that the Region at the moment has three active relief centres; the Arapaima Primary School, Christian Brethren Church and the Culvert City Nursery School which house the 45 relocated families and have room for expansion and accommodation for more persons if necessary.Minister Benn told Kaieteur News that originally the Amerindian Hostel and Community Centre Building were being utilised as shelters.However, after the rapid rise of water Saturday evening, the Amerindian Hostel became flooded with water over four feet high and subsequently the Community Centre Building followed suite and was added to the list of facilities badly affected.He further stated that although 45 families were directly affected, many persons also opted to remain near to their homes and decided to stay with family or friends for a number of reasons such as comfort, security and access to washroom facilities.This newspaper was told that the three houses/buildings which collapsed were the “Adobe type” which consisted of mud walls but that no one was injured since the families had already evacuated the premises.The Lethem Power Station on Saturday, as waters continues to rise, flooding the building causing the company to cease operations in order to protect equipment and lives. As a result, the entire area is suffering lack of electricity (black out).At the Arapaima Primary School, there are 60 residents being sheltered there, with meals being provided on a regular basis.Even those who are residing with friends and families at their homes can still visit this location and obtain meals.St. Ignatius and Culvert City residents have been cut off from exiting the village unless they use boats since the roads and bridges have been flooded. The Tiger Pond area, roads at Pipang and Karasabai, the stretch leading to Annai and surrounding access areas into the Pakaraimas have all been badly affected.Water has accumulated to over four feet with only six boats operational as means of transporting relief materials and residents.It was related to this newspaper that upon entering the Iwokrama section,China Jerseys, there are two to three bridges which are problematic. In Kunu, two more bridges are flooded beyond observation and the Sand Creek area has also been intensely affected by the sudden rise of water.Minister Benn said, “The Education Ministry has decided that schools would be closed off. Schools would be out for this week, but CXC is a go ahead. Planes have already been deployed to Annai and Aishalton with CXC papers so students will be writing the exams there.”He added that the primary school Assessment exams have been abandoned for this week with hopes that the situation will improve and water will recede.This publication was also told that more supplies are expected to be flown into Region Nine today by the Guyana Defence Force and Air Services Limited, which have been integral in the distribution of health materials and resources to flood victims in this situation.The Public Works Minister informed that “Assessment is ongoing,Cheap Air Max 90 Online, medical teams are out. Many people are astonished at the rate the water came up. We are hoping that between three and four days time, the situation is stabilised…I wouldn’t say there is a catastrophe in terms of the situation being managed, if the waters go down in three to four days.”One resident told this Kaieteur News that he has been residing in Lethem for over 40 years and has never seen such a calamity. He said “this is the highest so far in my history in 40 years that I have seen the waters at this level. It is an unfortunate situation that the Takutu River water is coming back here when in actuality the water is supposed to flow into the Rio Blanco River which in turn takes it out into the Rio Negro River.”Kaieteur News understands that Boa Vista,Jerseys NFL China, Brazil,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys, is also suffering tremendously due to this incident, especially since the area is much lower than Lethem. Some residents in this area have also begun to relocate and they are hoping that the worst is over.A source explained to Kaieteur News that in certain areas of Region Nine, residents use “latrines” (pit toilets) and because of the flooding and waters being over four feet high, feces and garbage are seen floating in the waters and this is posing a severe health concern for persons within the vicinity of flood hit areas especially those who have to walk in the filthy waters.The Takutu Guest House has been closed off due to dirty water and debris floating in and out of the various locations.According to Alfred Ramsarran, President of the Rupununi Chambers of Commerce, the situation is being worsened with the Takutu River overflowing its banks.Owing to the overflowing of the Takutu River, traffic coming from Brazil to Guyana (small vehicles) is impassable since the bridge by Tabatinga Creek is covered with water.Students in lethem having no choice but to resort to use of boats to get to classes. This photo was taken at the beginning of the heavy rainfall during last week.Ramsarran stated that, “upon arriving in Guyana via the Takutu Bridge vehicles have to travel through a small community name Tabatinga which is connected to Lethem by the Tabatinga Bridge and it is flooded.”There may be food and fuel shortages in the district if rain continues to fall over the next week or two, Ramsarran stated. He posited that currently there are goods on shelves but with commute being difficult on the Linden to Lethem Road and from the Takutu Bridge to Lethem, sourcing food items and fuel would be challenging.There is also no supply of potable water in the area as the pump station is under water.Last year owing to heavy rainfall in the hinterland region many communities were affected. Many farmers did not have the opportunity to harvest their crops and to cushion the effects the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs distributed food hampers to various communities including the Wai Wai village of Gunns Strip.Ramsarran indicated that Minister Benn is in the area interacting with residents and farmers to derive solutions for the current situation.Meanwhile,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, the situation on the Linden to Lethem Road is not improving although works are being carried on the stretch.According to a Trucker, Charles Jones who arrived in Lethem Saturday evening, “The situation on the road is becoming critical. A heavily laden truck is stalled on one of the bridges nearing Kurupukari Crossing. Also a culvert was washed away making it impassable for vehicular traffic between Annai and Kurupiukari.”Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Progressive Party had its regional headquarters established in the affected community of Lethem and has enlisted its machinery in that part of Guyana to support this ongoing response.Further, the party’s General Secretary Mr. Donald Ramotar will be leading a team to visit the affected communities shortly.