Millions of dollars in losses for Grove residents after sea defence breach


By Sharda Bacchus

Scores of residents at Grove, East Bank Demerara, are now picking up the pieces and counting their losses after a breach in the sea defence resulted in severe flooding on Tuesday afternoon.

The News Room understands that work was ongoing at the sea defence by a contractor when the issue occurred, instantly flooding residents.

And while the breach has been temporarily sealed, residents told the News Room on Wednesday that they were informed to expect more flooding from the upcoming high tide.

They recalled that the water started to flood the community at around 17:00hrs.

The flooded shop of a Grove, EBD resident (Photo: DPI/March 21, 2023)

On Wednesday morning when the News Room visited the area, the water had already receded and many residents, most of whom own and operate their own businesses, were busy cleaning and trying to salvage their valuables.

Businessman, Fred Hilton who manages a hardware store, said he was forced to sell some of the damaged items such as cement for half the price since they were soaked.

“The water was just coming into the whole place right out to the street, the cement and everything just get wet,” Hilton told the News Room.

“We been cleaning up since morning…When I step out, the water was over my water boots,” he recalled.

A resident bail water from his house (Photo: DPI/March 21, 2023)

Another resident, Shetlana James said the flooding has left her “empty” since many of her household items were destroyed.

“Till 3 0’clock this morning me and my husband finish bailing water…Everything was damaged. That was how high the water was,” James told the News Room.

Shetlana James

She said her children are unable to attend school until further notice since their books and stationery were washed away with the water.

“I really don’t know, I am empty right now. My kids them have test, they can’t go to school. There here fighting with me,” the frustrated mother of eight said.

Two other businessmen, Shariff Khan and Germain Persaud, said while a lot has been destroyed, they are yet to estimate their loss.

Shariff Khan

“It was madness…Nuff, nuff water. Everything duck in water…I does sell spare parts and everything went under water…Engine, starter and them things expensive,” Khan, who is a mechanic, told the News Room.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips and Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, visited the scene on Tuesday night.

There, Minister Edghill said emergency measures were put in place to address the situation.

“We have an active contractor that is working on the sea defences in close proximity to where the breach occurred. That contractor, along with other emergency response contractor, were and are mobilised dealing with the current flooding,” he said.

And according to Phillips, the breach has since been sealed.

“It is unfortunate that we had this incident but we are here with the people and we are going to continue this relief operation so that people can return to normalcy in their life,” the Prime Minister assured residents.

Residents said they were promised cleaning supplies and a shelter has since been opened to temporarily accommodate them.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips meet with flood-affected residents (Photo: DPI/March 21, 2023)
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