HELL IS HIGH WATER
by SGP, Poet Laureate of Weary Travelers
Water, water everywhere – all started out as little drops of welcome rain badly needed by the rice farmers along the higher levels of the Coastal Plain. Then, on Friday evening, just at six o’clock darkness, it pelted and became a tropical downpour that lasted the whole night and next day. As is usual, the breezes followed and the lowlands began to dry – Saturday night, the pelting again set in and by Sunday the breezes could not cope – ditches filled, roads and yards started to saturate.
January, annually a wet month with up to ten inches of rain turned 2005 into a historical disaster with some thirty inches of rainfall in less than five days. Unheard of flood conditions brought water levels to completely inundate ground level structures, all roads and community services. Apart from captured rain, fresh water supplies failed, septic tanks and storm sewers polluted the landscape, telephone service went down, electrical power intermittent and transportation all at a standstill.
Never before had public service been put to such test. Government, renowned for corruption and ineffectiveness, put forward a campaign of announcing remedial efforts – in fact, a prime campaign thrust was directed to silencing opposition critics, outlawing negative public comment and closing down private TV and radio. The president spoke of programs for remedial steps being taken without need for international aid.
The facts of the situation are that the waters continue to rise, families remain homeless and isolated with no food, potable water or access or help of any kind. The Army did send trucks with scanty supplies that could only reach those in shallow areas and with long reaches. The frail and ailing remain in serious jeopardy. The spirit, moral strengths and sharing nature of the populace sustains life and hope.
Rumors persist that dams are under repair and pumps are being provided along the coast to pump water into the sea – some such attempts have been sighted but effects yet to be realized. The water levels remain waist high.
By Day Six, creative individuals had managed to bring fishing boats ashore to provide Venice style gondolas plying the flood waterways. This transportation system is allowing access to any stores and services that have managed to survive. The hardship does not ease, however, for the majority of households whose capacity depends on a pay cheque where the employment opportunity has dissolved.
The Red Cross brightened the lives of many just today with flotillas of boats visiting individual homes laden with needed essentials and manned with qualified caregivers and aids. Flying their white and red flags and displaying a refreshing clean professionalism, morale was elevated dramatically.
The days go by – Each survivor has their individual take on the crisis situation, particularly first thing in the morning when daylight allows a look at the rise or fall of the flood levels. Are the pumps working yet?
What is the weather forecast? Have they fixed the dam from the high grounds? Is there enough food and water to last the day? Have there been new health warnings? When will the telephone and water Company get their act together? Has the President been shot yet?
If the country and climate weren’t capable of being so magnificent and if the people were not so delightful, an escape to higher ground would be a logical alternative.
Reader sends observations of Guyana flood
POEMS & SONGS
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~