At ADRA's temporary reception site in Caracas, located inside a Seventh-day Adventist church, staff and volunteers are providing water, food and clothing to hundreds from the surrounding area whose homes were washed away. Recent reports indicate more than 150,000 are now homeless and more than 5,000 killed in the worst disaster to strike the country in 50 years.
"Most people being rescued have no food, and have lost all of their belongings," says Rodolfo Escobar, ADRA Venezuela director. "Plus many crops were washed away. The government foresees a real shortage of food."
Yesterday in the state of Miranda, ADRA attended to those whose homes were washed away due to the fracturing of Guapo's dam. The water that gushed from the dam carried away hundreds of people's homes. ADRA delivered 11 vehicles full of food and clothing to those affected.
Venezuela's northern state of Vargas was virtually washed away, according to Escobar. The government is only allowing four rescue teams to enter the state's severely devastated areas. One of the teams is supported by ADRA, called Gui-may, a group of teenage scouts organized by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The 16 Gui-may are assisting in areas where people are still waiting to be rescued by military helicopters.
"There are places that ADRA cannot reach yet in Vargas," says Escobar, "because there is too much mud. It is very difficult to get in."
On the other side of Venezuela, in the state of Zulia, another ADRA rescue team is transporting people stranded on small islands within a flooded lake to nearby reception centers. At the centers, survivors are receiving food and clothing. The lake, which is fed from a river out of neighboring Colombia, overflowed and washed away hundreds of nearby homes. "Without ADRA 's assistance, these stranded people would still be waiting for a helicopter rescue," adds Escobar.
Due to overcrowding of area hospitals and reception centers, helicopters are now being instructed to fly rescued people to Barquisimeto, Valencia or Maracay. In Valencia, an Adventist church is already housing and feeding 150 people from the devastated areas.
To date, ADRA has provided more than 8,300 people with assistance from the floods. ADRA is an independent, humanitarian agency established with the specific purpose of individual and community development and disaster relief in more than 120 countries worldwide. ADRA's International office, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, is accepting monetary donations for its relief efforts in Venezuela. To make a donation, please call ADRA's toll-free number 1-800-424-ADRA (2372). To make an online donation or to find out more about ADRA, visit the web site at www.adra.org.
Contact: Beth Schaefer, Media
Phone: (301) 680-6355 Fax: (301) 680-6370