Swamped Guyanese appeal for help

Authorities from a southwestern border town with Brazil Sunday appealed for help and emergency aid after the border Takatu River overflowed its banks, leaving buildings including the main power plant and the local police station under up to three feet of water.

“We are under siege down here,” said Terrence Boston, chairman of the Neighborhood Democratic Council early Sunday as waters from three weeks of heavy annual mid-year rains in the Rupununi Savannah Region swamped Guyana and parts of the neighboring Brazilian state of Roraima.

There have been no reports of deaths of injuries but Boston said that Roraima State had been getting more rain than Lethem township in Guyana in recent weeks and much of the water from Brazil has flowed over into Guyana. The Lethem urban and commercial area has a population of about 5,000 people.

The result, he said, is that heavily swollen Brazilian rivers have dumped their excesses into the Takatu and Ireng rivers in Guyana, flooding the township and crippling economic life in the region dominated by native Machousi Indians.

Engineers were forced to shut down the main power plant in the area as of late Saturday night because the facility is under three feet of water, while residents have been forced to move from hundreds of homes and the town’s main hotel and other buildings as waters rise.

“This is the normal rainy season down here but we have never seen anything like this, not three feet of water remaining for several days in buildings, no never,” he told Caribbean Life early Sunday.

Cabinet ministers and government engineers have flown to the area to examine the situation but Boston said Lethem is not like the coast where floodgates can be opened at low tides to drain out water and there is no ocean in which excess waters can be dumped, “so we just have to wait.”

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