Venezuela

Venezuela Floods Fact Sheet #4

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Overview of Current Situation

The Government of Venezuela (GOV) reported a possible death toll of up to 30,000; up to 340,000 people have been affected, with 140,000 internally displaced.

The GOV reported that almost 8,600 people are currently working on search and rescue efforts. As of December 22, there are 45 helicopters flying rescue missions in country, including U.S. military helicopters. According to GOV officials, rescue operations will continue over the next eight days.

The search and rescue focus is moving from the emergency phase of saving lives to the secondary phase of evacuating victims and setting up camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

USG Response

USAID
The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) performed an aerial assessment of the state of Vargas, which was devastated by the floods. The DART reported approximately 70 percent of the homes surveyed were destroyed and, according to the water company, 70 percent of the water supply was damaged. The USAID/DART will continue to perform assessments of the affected areas to determine the scope of needs and develop appropriate recommendations.

A USAID aircraft with 6,000 hygiene kits, 1,600 wool blankets, 1,600 five-gallon water containers, 80 rolls of plastic sheeting (sufficient to shelter 4,000 people), and medical supply kits arrived in Caracas on December 23, 1999. Total cost of commodities and transport for this third airlift is approximately $144,000 (total USG expenditures are show on the following page).

Department of Defense (DoD)
The DoD continues to assist in the evacuation of injured and displaced people. DoD has ten helicopters, six C-130s and five Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units (ROWPU) in country.

International Response

The European Commission has provided $400,000 in first aid supplies to be distributed to the Light of Life Foundation and the Red Cross of Venezuela.

The Government of England provided $803,000 to be distributed to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

International branches of the Red Cross allocated funds to the response, including $50,000 from China and $95,000 from Switzerland.

Two Colombian C-130 transport planes are currently flying supplies to devastated areas. Other Latin American countries including Mexico and Cuba flew in relief personnel and supplies including baby food, rice, powdered milk, mattresses and shoes.

Local Response

GOV military and civil defense personnel continue rescue operations. Several shelters in public and private facilities have been opened in Caracas and interior cities.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Julio Montes, reported that the GOV was providing $775 million, available immediately, to repair roads, electricity supplies and water pipes in the state of Vargas, where 6,400 Venezuelan troops were deployed to assist engineers.

Public Donations Information

USAID Hotline 1-800-872-4373

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region in order to provide monetary donations or call the USAID hotline at 1-800-872-4373 between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. 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 at 703-276-1914.

USAID will not deviate from standard Denton Program procedures for transporting privately-donated relief supplies. USAID will prioritize delivery of essential relief commodities. 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.

Background

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, cleanup operations have begun in many areas within the Caracas metropolitan area, although some main avenues remain covered in mud.

The Port of La Guaira is expected to reopen in three to four weeks. Roads remain closed between Caracas and La Guaira, except to humanitarian traffic.

Maiquetia airport in Caracas continues to serve as the GOV relief headquarters, with a triage center and a shuttle stop for internally displaced persons (IDPs) that are being relocated to the interior and to Caracas. More than 10,000 evacuees are sheltered at the airport.

The Venezuelan press reports that the GOV's Minister of Science and Technology established five commissions comprised of scientific and technological experts to assess the structural, geological, and hydrological situations in the affected zones.

On December 16, 1999, the U.S. Ambassador to Venezeula declared a disaster for flooding. USAID/OFDA responded by providing an initial $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. USAID/OFDA has provided an additional $350,000 in funding to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to support food relief efforts.

USAID/OFDA dispatched a DART on December 20 to help coordinate response activities and to perform needs assessments. USAID/OFDA provided funding for the purchase and transport of relief supplies and $200,000 in response to a PAHO appeal.

Total U.S. Government Funding to Date

Organization
Action
Funding
Date
USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Authority to Embassy
$25,000
December 16, 1999
USAID/OFDA Local purchase of relief supplies (medical) through Embassy
$200,000
December 20, 1999
USAID/OFDA DART support
$150,000

USAID/OFDA Purchase and transport of plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, water bladders, and medical kits via two airlifts
$439,604
December 21, 1999
USAID/OFDA Purchase and transport of plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, water bladders, and medical kits.
$143,558
December 22, 1999
USAID/OFDA PAHO appeal
$200,000
December 22, 1999
Total USAID funding to date: $1,158,162 - December 23, 1999
Total DoD funding to date: $2,357,000 - December 23, 1999
Total USG funding to date: $3,515,162 - December 23, 1999