Venezuela Floods Fact Sheet #5

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.

Access to potable water is identified as the primary need. The GOV reported that Venezuela has sufficient food supplies for the next 60 days.

Transport and distribution within the country is extremely difficult due to infrastructure damage. Airports serving Caracas remain closed to commercial flights. Latin American commercial carriers are flying into Maracaibo and Valencia. Many roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed, and flooding and landslides isolated numerous communities. Roads remain closed between Caracas and La Guaira, except to humanitarian traffic. The Port of La Guaira is expected to reopen in mid January.

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.

According to the GOV, almost 8,600 people are 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 several days, although the search and rescue focus is transitioning 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

The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) continues to perform assessments of affected areas and coordinate with local and international organizations. On December 23, the DART leader performed assessments in the states of Falcon and Miranda. Aerial assessments of Boca, Tucacas, and Chichi Rivichi in Falcon indicate the water has not yet receded in these low-lying areas, thus inhibiting landing of aircraft. In Miranda, the city of Miranda is effectively isolated due to the El Guapo dam burst, which inundated the city and has rendered roads impassable.

Department of Defense (DoD)
On December 24, 1999, President Clinton authorized the DoD to draw down $20 million to assist relief operations in Venezuela.

The DoD continues to assist in the evacuation of injured and displaced people, providing personnel, helicopters, C-130s, and relief supplies, including medicines and Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units (ROWPUs).

International Response

As reported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), contributions by donor organizations total over $10 million to date.

OCHA has established an international donor coordinating group in Venezuela to share information, including assessments, on-going and proposed activities, funding, and action plans.

Numerous non-governmental organizations, churches and other organizations are collecting monetary and in-kind donations for victims of the flooding.

Local Response

The Venezuelan Red Cross (VRC) unveiled a flood relief action plan on December 23, outlining three phases - Immediate Actions, Emergency, and Recuperation. The plan is designed to reach 50,000 families (250,000 persons) in one year at a projected cost of $3million.

The Venezuelan Civil Defense and the Venezuelan Red Cross are completing a census of shelters. Information regarding shelters and victims is available online at

GOV military and civil defense personnel continue rescue operations.

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 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 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

For additional information, please access the Natural Disasters section of ReliefWeb at


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, Vargas, and Miranda) and the Federal District of Caracas. The states of Miranda and Vargas were particularly hard hit.

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

USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Authority to Embassy
December 16, 1999
USAID/OFDA Local purchase of relief supplies (medical) through Embassy
December 20, 1999
December 20, 1999
USAID/OFDA Purchase and transport of plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, water bladders, and medical kits via two airlifts
December 21, 1999
USAID/OFDA Purchase and transport of plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, water bladders, and medical kits.
December 22, 1999
December 22, 1999

Total USAID funding to date: $1,158,162
Total DoD funding to date: $2,357,000
Total USG funding to date: $3,515,162

CORRECTION: December 23 factsheet contained a factual error. It should have stated that 70% of the population of Vargas was without water, not that 70% of the water supply was damaged.