CARACAS - A month after massive flooding and landslides killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans, families have begun to rebuild their lives. World Vision is providing assistance.
A search and rescue team supported by World Vision has plucked hundreds of people from the flood zone. About 3,000 survivors will soon receive hygiene kits, water and other basic supplies. Many will also receive psychological counseling to help cope with the trauma. More than $310,000 worth of shoes, clothing and medical supplies will be distributed by February.
"I have seen the massive destruction and devastation of war in a number of countries," said John Yale, senior relief coordinator for World Vision, "but I have rarely seen so much death and destruction in one small area with almost all of the survivors left homeless. This tragedy would test the faith of any Christian."
An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people died and 400,000 were left homeless after weeks of flooding peaked on December 16. The flooding has been reported as the worst natural disaster to strike Latin America in the past century.
World Vision plans to begin a second phase of assistance that will seek to help displaced residents find shelter and re-establish a stable source of income. Major League Baseball star Omar Vizquel, a Venezuela native, has toured the flood zone and is asking the public to donate to World Vision's relief efforts.
During terrorist threats and a Y2K scare in December, Americans "were more concerned about doing what they had to do to protect their people," Vizquel said. "This is a good time for us to get the focus back to what we need to do here (in Venezuela)."
Cash donations to the relief effort can be made by calling 1-888-56-CHILD (or 1-888-562-4453) or by visiting World Vision's web site at www.worldvision.org.
Editor's note: Photos of the relief effort are available online at www.worldvision.org/venezuelafloods. John Yale is available for phone interviews.
For media inquiries, please contact: Jonathan Miller, (253) 815-2157
Dean Owen, (253) 815-2103