Venezuela

Floods in Venezuela Update February 2000

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Catholic Relief Services Aids Flood Victims In Venezuela
Catholic Relief Services staff continue to help thousands of victims piece their lives back together after devastating floods ripped through the region. The Government of Venezuela reports that there are possibly 30,000 people dead while another 340,000 people remain homeless. At least 200,000 jobs have been lost and there is $2 billion worth of damage to roads, bridges and buildings.

"There is barely an unaffected person here, nearly everyone has lost either a friend, relative, or colleague." "Thousands of Venezuelans have sought support from the Church and the support has not only been material, but emotional and spiritual as well," says John McCuen, Catholic Relief Services Project Manager.

Catholic Relief Services staff are coordinating a flood response with non-governmental organizations and Caritas staff working in the area. Initially, the agency has committed $100,000 for relief assistance.

Urgent needs include clean water and sanitation. Catholic Relief Services proposes to reach nearly 2,300 families with water. Each family will receive 42 liters of water a week that they can use to drink and cook. With assistance from the United Nations World Food Program, food baskets may also be distributed to almost 32,000 people on a weekly basis. Along with the food distribution, families could also receive hygiene packs including soap and sanitary items.

Background of the Situation:

Heavy rains, attributed to La Niña, soaked the coast of Venezuela for over a week causing heavy flooding and mudslides. The Government of Venezuela has declared a State of Emergency for the entire northern region of the country including the states of Zulia, Falcon, Yaracuy, Nueva Esparta, Carabobo, Tachira, Miranda, the department of Vargas, and the capital city of Caracas.

Nearly 75% of the nation's population lives along the coastal areas - the areas most affected by the flooding. This has also contributed to the loss of jobs, mainly in the tourism area. Mudslides dropping down from steep coastline areas carried rocks, boulders, homes and virtually everything in their path out to sea. Transportation to affected areas continues to be a problem. Many bridges and roads are either destroyed or buried.

The Government of Venezuela has been active in reaching as many victims as possible. Catholic Relief Services will continue to respond to this disaster.

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