The US.8 million Japan grant for phase two of the rehabilitation of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) was on Tuesday transferred to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) at Flagstaff,Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, Japanese Ambassador Mitsuhiko Okada and NDIA CEO Frederick FlattsEast Coast Demerara.The project, which stemmed from an agreement by the Japanese Government and the previous Administration in 2007, was divided into two phases.Under phase one, eight excavators, two pontoons, aluminium boats along with engines, 4×4 trucks, GPS devices and laptops were procured.Under phase two, US$3.8 million was provided by the Japanese Government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency for the rehabilitation of six structures within the EDWC, at Sarah Johanna, Nancy, Annandale, Hope, Shanks and Maduni.Making brief remarks at the handing over ceremony were Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, Japanese Ambassador Mitsuhiko Okada and NDIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fredericks Flatts.Holder, in a statement released on the Government Information Agency site, said that “… after the 2005 floods, the East Demerara Water Conservancy’s Northern Relief Channel project was designed to provide the means to release excess water in the conservancy when it is in danger of overtopping and breach”.The Minister further explained that “rehabilitation of the East Demerara Water Conservancy- Component II” has realised construction and rehabilitation of six of the network’s 33 intake/relief structures to protect the EDWC dam from overtopping and collapsing during rainy seasons.Ambassador Okada said that climate change was a matter of great concern to all. “I would like to commend the efforts of the different agencies involved for bringing the project to completion. Japan is committed to supporting developing countries in overcoming vulnerabilities and creating strategies to withstand the effects of climate change as evidenced by this grant.”After being taken on his second tour to the project site by boat, the Japanese Ambassador expressed satisfaction and said his Government stood ready to help the people and Government of Guyana in the execution of suitable projects to aid in the country’s development.NDIA CEO Flatts made similar comments as Minister Holder, adding that the 20 engineers who were trained in dam management, flood control and repairs recently.These works will complement the Hope Canal project.
Share Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSmoke billows from a neighborhood that was destroyed by a fast moving wild fire on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.The wildfires that have devastated California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property, officials said Thursday, as authorities raised the number of homes and other buildings destroyed to nearly 7,000.Both numbers were expected to rise as crews continue assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed 42 people.State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the preliminary dollar valuation of losses came from claims filed with the eight largest insurance companies in the affected areas and did not include uninsured property.The loss total was expected to climb “probably dramatically so,” he told a Los Angeles press conference.The initial insurance total covered 4,177 partial residential losses, 5,449 total residential losses, 35 rental and condominium losses, 601 commercial property losses, more than 3,000 vehicle losses, 150 farm or agricultural equipment losses, and 39 boats.The estimate of homes and structures burned was boosted to 6,900 from 5,700 as fire crews returned to hard-hit neighborhoods and assessed remote and rural areas they could not get to earlier, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.He said most of the newly counted destroyed buildings burned on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 — when the wildfires broke out in Northern California’s wine country and other nearby areas.“The estimates are in structures and are mostly homes, but also includes commercial structures and outbuildings like barns and sheds,” Berlant said.Twenty two of the 42 deaths in California’s October fires happened in a Sonoma County wildfire, making it the third deadliest in California history. A 1933 Los Angeles fire that killed 29 people was the deadliest, followed by a 1991 fire in Oakland that killed 25.California Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday issued an executive order to speed up recovery efforts as fire authorities say they’ve stopped the progress of wildfires.Tens of thousands of people have been allowed back home but more than 15,000 people remain evacuated Thursday, down from a high of 100,000 last Saturday.Brown’s order also allowed disrupted wineries to relocate tasting rooms and suspended state fees for mobile home parks and manufactured homes.The order extends the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies until April 2018 and expedites hiring of personnel for emergency and recovery operations.In Los Angeles County, authorities said a charred body was found on Mount Wilson, where crews were trying to surround a smoldering wildfire in steep terrain.The male body discovered late Wednesday was recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to identify it, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Vincent Plair.California firefighters were also battling a blaze that sent smoke billowing into the college beach town of Santa Cruz.The wildfire in steep and rugged terrain had grown to nearly half a square mile (1.3 square kilometers) and the number of houses threatened by the fire had doubled to 300.Several firefighters suffered minor injuries.—This version corrects the year of the Griffith Park fire to 1933 and not 1993.___Blood reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.