Overview of Current Situation
Civil Defense Minister Salazar reports a current total of 16,000 dead, in addition to 94,000 homeless and 130,000 evacuated. The GOV estimates 150,000 people have been affected, although reports by other organizations range up to 300,000 affected.
Maiquetia airport continues to serve as the GOV relief headquarters, containing a triage center and a shuttle stop for IDPs that are being relocated to the interior and to Caracas. More than 10,000 evacuees are sheltered there.
There is an additional IDP camp in Valencia, and the military is working to establish two more camps.
The GOV identified potable water for IDP centers and isolated communities as a priority.
The GOV also identified medicine as a priority, as well as medical supplies, in order to prevent the spread of infectious disease and to treat affected personnel. The GOV does not require additional medical personnel.
On December 16, 1999, U.S. Ambassador to Venezeula John Francis Maisto declared a disaster for flooding. USAID/OFDA responded the same day by providing $25,000 to the U.S. Embassy to be used by the Venezuelan Red Cross and Catholic-Episcopal Conference for local purchase of relief supplies, construction material, and food.
On December 19, USAID/OFDA provided $200,000 for the local purchase of relief supplies, including 30,000 tetanus toxoid vaccines and 40,000 syringes.
Also on December 19, USAID/OFDA provided $150,000 to support the operations of the USAID/DART.
USAID/OFDA dispatched two airlifts of relief supplies that arrived in Caracas on December 19 and 20. These flights contained 100 rolls of plastic sheeting, 15,000 wool blankets, 5,600 (five-gallon) water containers, 10 (3,000-gallon) water bladders, and 1,500 body bags.
A five-person USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) team is conducting assessments to confirm needs and make recommendations for response.
On December 21, USAID announced that it will make available $3 million in disaster assistance funding to support relief efforts related to the flooding.
On December 22, USAID/OFDA will deliver hygiene kits, wool blankets, plastic sheeting, medical supplies, and water containers for flood victims.
Department of Defense (DoD)
DoD is supplying approximately $697,000 worth of medicines and medical supplies.
Two additional Department of Defense (DoD) helicopters will arrive December 21 to supplement the efforts of the eight DoD helicopters currently in country.
Two C-130s are arriving December 21 with a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU), 727 hygiene kits, blankets, chlorine and iodine tablets, and other supplies.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has mobilized an emergency team comprised of epidemiologists, health service experts, and sanitary engineers and has released an immediate appeal for donor assistance. SUMA, the humanitarian supply management system developed by PAHO, has been activated and is being operated by civil defense authorities.
The Venezuelan Red Cross has more than 1,340 first aid workers, doctors, and other volunteers working in more than 80 shelters providing food, medical assistance and transportation.
National efforts to collect relief items are being organized with collection centers throughout the country.
Venezuelan press reports that the GOV's Minister of Science and Technology has established five commissions comprised of scientist and technological experts to assess the structural, geological, and hydrological situations in the affected zones.
Public Donations Information
In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage monetary donations to appropriate organizations. USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. A list of the PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site at www.info.usaid.gov. The list is composed of PVOs that are registered with USAID and/or listed by InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas; InterAction can be contacted at 1-202-667-8227 x106, or via the Internet at www.interaction.org. Those interested in providing specific technical relief services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines (703) 276-1914.
USAID will be unable to transport privately-donated relief supplies under the Denton Program for the next two weeks in order to prioritize delivery of essential relief commodities. USAID will not deviate from standard Denton Program procedures; for more information on the Denton Program, please refer to the USAID website at www.info.usaid.gov/hum_response/pvc/denton.
For additional information, please access the Natural Disasters section of ReliefWeb at www.reliefweb.int.
Department of Defense: $2,025,376
Total USG Funding to Date: $2,839,980
Two weeks of unrelenting rain led to flash flooding in northern Venezuela and on December 16, the Government of Venezuela (GOV) declared a State of Emergency for seven states (Zulia, Falcon, Yaracuy, Nueva Esparta, Carabobo, Tachira, and Miranda) and the Federal District of Caracas.
The GOV reports that many roads and bridges are damaged or destroyed, and flooding and landslides currently isolate many communities. In addition, national and international airports serving Caracas are closed to commercial flights. According to U.S. Embassy reports that cleanup operations have begun in many areas within the Caracas metropolitan area, although some main avenues remain covered in mud.
Vargas, an administrative department within the Federal District, is considered the hardest-hit. The Caracas-La Guaira highway is closed to all but humanitarian vehicles, and the coastal roads are almost completely destroyed.