Floods in Venezuela: Update March 2000

Catholic Relief Services Aids Flood Victims In Venezuela
"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 has committed over $250,000 for relief assistance to flood victims to date.

CRS is Working with Local Partners

Catholic Relief Services staff, working with Caritas and local partners in the country, continues to help thousands of victims piece their lives back together after devastating floods ripped through the region. Catholic partner Caritas Peru staff members with extensive emergency response experience are working directly with Caritas Venezuela to coordinate distributions of materials. Food, clothing, medicine and hygiene supplies are issued to those individuals most in need.

CRS has helped nearly 2,300 families receive water. Each family received 42 liters of water a week that they could use for cooking and drinking. The agency also received assistance from the United Nations World Food Program. This assistance included food baskets which are being distributed to almost 32,000 people on a weekly basis. Along with the food distribution, families are receiving hygiene packs including soap and sanitary items.

Caritas Peru is also working to assist Caritas Venezuela in the development and planning of future emergency management programs. Many of the country's water and sanitation facilities have been damaged or destroyed and it is estimated that 25,000 homes were destroyed from the impacts of the floods. Effective management of housing rehabilitation and health programs is the primary goal of the Caritas program.

Caritas Venezuela is utilizing a community-based approach centered on rebuilding programs and ensuring active involvement and ownership from the local beneficiaries.

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 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 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.

Catholic Relief Services will continue to respond to this disaster.

Copyright=A91999 CRS