15 May, 2006

Suriname Field Assessments: East Area & Stoelmanseiland Region

Here's an assessment conducted two days ago by a relief team in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) from the air in Suriname on the Eastern Area and along the Marowijne River in the Stoelmanseiland region:

The MOD had to rent a private helicopter, based at the National Airport Zorg & Hoop where there are 3 private organisations providing air transport. One organization provides 2 choppers while the others are equipped with air planes. It was observed that an in-depth assessment was required on the number of planes and their capacty holds needed for relief operations in disaster zones. While waiting to leave on various assessments during the day, the relief team noticed that the air planes were loaded with food packets to distribute to the affected areas.

The flight towards Stoelmanseiland showed a clear view that the water has flooded into the forests and the rivers and creeks overflow their banks. The pilot who is used to flying over the region of Stoelmanseiland, mentioned that the small rivers usually reach a maximum of 2 meters wide and after the disaster they were between 5 to 6 meeters wide. Also visible was the submerged areas in many parts of the forest as a result of the extensive flooding.

Several isolated locations including some houses and parts of villages which were completely surrounded by water, were seen on one side of the river where people were trapped inside and have been surviving on food packets fropped from the air by relief planes. Many islands along the river were underwater and people use their boats to get from one place to another while living temporally on higher ground in improvised houses where several families are being sheltered.

The name of this location is called Poffiedans where there are roughly about 500 residents including 200 children. The coordinates for Poffiedans are N. 4 37.230 W. 054 24.913 and flight to this area is possible via a chopper airstrip that is operational while the next nearest airstrip for planes is GAGABA - Nasom.

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