Drainage Division Gears Up For Hurricane Season

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As Barbadians continue to pray for an uneventful hurricane season, Government’s Drainage Division is continuing in earnest to roll-out its year-round flood mitigation programme.

In this regard, Director of Drainage, Keith Barrow, has reiterated his appeal for Barbadians to assist the Division in its bid to prevent major flooding on the island.

"Obviously, we cannot guarantee there will be no flooding, and it is important for citizens to understand that. However, they can assist us in our work by putting garbage where it should be, because garbage, including plastics and boxes cause problems in the soak aways and in the storm water wells," he explained.

?????????????????????? In giving a proverbial list of do’s and don’ts for flood prevention, Mr. Barrow urged householders to put their garbage out on Sanitation Service Authority collection days; secure potential floating items and important documents; continuously monitor rainfall information in their areas; monitor drainage structures in their immediate area; and report any malfunctions to the Drainage Division at telephone number 426-9695 or 426-1709.

?????????????????????? In terms of the don’ts, householders are advised not to dispose grass and plant cuttings into storm water drainage systems or to mix concrete or mortar in the roadways where residue goes into the storm water drainage systems.

Persons are also urged to desist from tampering with drainage structures; disposing of domestic waste water into the storm water drainage systems or blocking or altering watercourses or drainage structures including wells, culverts and drains. The disposal of old tyres, television sets, toys and other items or oils and greases into drainage structures is also prohibited.

According to the Division’s Senior Technical Officer, Charles Yearwood,?? their year-round activities contribute largely to preparation for hurricanes or other disasters.

??"Because we tend to speak of the hurricane or rainy season, we forget that there are other types of water-related disasters that can occur. You can have sea swells or coastal swellings for instance. Our primary objective is year-round flood mitigation," he explained.

In terms of maintenance, the Drainage official cited work on drains, culverts and bridges, as well as structural work to improve the drainage infrastructure and the installation of new wells, as their key areas of focus.

In referencing the department’s Flood Response Plan, which is carried out in collaboration with the Barbados Fire Service, Mr. Yearwood noted that over 50 percent of their responses had been on private lands and involved flooded basements.

??"That is a concern to us. The public has to look at the construction of basements, such that they are swimming pool- type constructions thus preventing water from seeping in through the block work," he advised.

The senior drainage official also mentioned low maintenance of structures and indiscriminate dumping as among the major contributors to flooding.

"There are quite a number of structures across the island. In fact, as we develop, we see that we have the same amount of staff, but an increase in physical development activities. We have more roads to be constructed and more sidewalks, but we also enclose those drains, which means it takes a longer time to clean them.

Sometimes, therefore, the drains are not cleaned as frequently, in some areas, as we would like.

??"It has to do with indiscriminate dumping. You do not have to wait until you travel to Bridgetown. As you drive around you will see debris and garbage on the road, and this affects the efficiency of the systems," he lamented.

With drains in some areas, including Bridgetown, over 100 years old, Mr.Yearwood said they were attempting, in the second phase of Operation Clean City, to clear all of the City drains in order to allow them to be able to carry the maximum flow, and thus reduce the incidence of flooding.

Physical development, namely work conducted across waterways was also flagged. In this regard,?? the?? senior spokesman?? maintained?? that persons wishing to build structures or reform?? their lands,?? needed to consider?? the impact of?? the proposed activity on storm water drainage and management and conversely, the potential?? impact which?? flows could have on their development.

The need for?? vigilance?? when conducting basic household?? chores,?? like putting out garbage and cutting lawns, as well as moving soil or purchasing land was also highlighted.

"When persons are in the process of purchasing land – they need to get a professional to advise them on the use of the land. They need to consider if it is suitable for their goals, as well as what needs to be done to bring it to a level where flooding would not be affected by their actions," Mr. Yearwood pointed out.

In 2003, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) identified flooding as the most commonly occurring disaster event in the region.??

In addressing a regional Flood Risk Management and Climate Change training course earlier this year, the Director of Drainage revealed that some 10 cases of flooding, with significant damage, were recorded in the last century, representing 33 per cent of the major flood events over that same period.

With an average of 200 floods, with minimal damage, allegedly reported to the Division annually, Mr. Barrow observed that flood damage in Barbados had been most significant within the south and west coast urban corridors, with areas in Bridgetown and Speightstown among those hardest hit.??cgaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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