Over 10,000 people have died, 6,000 remain missing and another 200,000 are homeless from flash floods and mudslides that swamped Venezuela's Caribbean coast last week. It is being called the South American country's worst natural disaster of the century. The death toll is expected to rise this week as towns dig out from tons of mud and rocks.
"My house was flattened, my husband was killed. I'm all alone," sobbed survivor Rafaela Vargas to a Reuters reporter on Monday.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel said in an interview that there were thousands of people missing and thousands dead while appealing for international help.
International Aid, a Christian relief agency based in Spring Lake, will initially ship such needed items as blankets, food, medicines and hygiene kits to the stricken areas. International Aid will continue to monitor the situation and likely will respond with additional shipments.
"The flooding in Venezuela has devastated the country, leaving thousands dead and missing and many homeless," says Jinny DeJong, Chief Operating Officer at International Aid. "Our hearts go out to the people of Venezuela, especially during this Christmas season. International Aid is responding compassionately with food and other items. Please keep the people of Venezuela in your prayers."
International Aid is also partnering with a group of students from Venezuela attending Grand Valley State University in Allendale who are seeking to raise funds for relief efforts in their homeland.
Credit card donations may be made by calling the International Aid 24-hour hot line at 1-800-251-2502 or click here to donate online. Checks should be made out to International Aid and marked "Emergency relief." Checks may bne sent to: International Aid, 17011 W. Hickory, Spring Lake, MI 49456. International Aid was recognized as one of the nation's top 100 nonprofit organizations, and one of the country's top 10 relief and development agencies in the November 1999 issue of The NonProfit Times.
International Aid links caring people and organizations with Christian partners worldwide. In fiscal year 1999, the agency provided emergency relief, missionary assistance and medical aid with an estimated value of $74 million through its global outreach. IA responded to such disasters as the Kosovar refugee crisis in the Balkans; earthquakes in Turkey and Colombia; a typhoon in India; flooding in North Carolina from Hurricane Floyd and tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area.
Over the years, the agency has reached millions of people in 170 countries on six continents. International Aid has also partnered with the state of Michigan and Michigan Gov. John Engler in the "Michigan Cares" program to help victims of Hurricane Mitch and "Michigan Cares II" to aid the Kosovar refugees.
Additional International Aid programs include KIDS HOPE USA, Kids Helping Kids, Christian Eye Ministry, Lab-In-A-Suitcase, medical equipment training, the Mission Resource Center for missionaries and short-term volunteer disaster relief outreaches.