Venezuela Floods Fact Sheet #7

Overview of Current Situation

The Government of Venezuela (GOV) reports that there are 400,000 persons affected, 30,000 dead, and 7,200 missing. In addition, the GOV reports that there are 63,935 houses damaged (the GOV expects this estimate to rise to up to 400,000) and 23,234 houses destroyed.

The GOV Sub-Secretary of Agriculture reports that approximately 35,000 hectares of farmland remains flooded and, in some areas, up to 60 percent of the harvest has been lost.

The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that 15 percent of IDPs in shelters are children under the age of five and the majority of the remaining IDPs are women.

According to the GOV, some areas of Miranda are still isolated and require relief assistance.

Humanitarian agencies and GOV officials report that the largest problem related to the disaster continues to be a lack of potable water and the need for health education (related to water/sanitation) in affected areas.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other members of the health community report that there is currently sufficient medical personnel in country. Hospitals throughout the country are handling the influx of patients; however, two hospitals have been destroyed in Vargas and one hospital remains without water. One of the destroyed hospitals is a women and children's hospital.

USG Response

On December 28, the USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader will travel to Miranda with WFP personnel to continue assessments. Additional assessments will be conducted on December 29 and 30 in Zulia.

Three USAID/OFDA-funded surface water purification units and two technicians arrived in Caracas on December 26. The units are operating in Macuto, l20 miles east of Caracas. Contaminated water from an existing reservoir is being purified and piped via a functional distribution system. The units are providing 450,000 gallons of purified drinking water per day meeting the needs of 80,000-100,000 people.

U.S. 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.

The UN system has established an Information Center to plan for and report on the use of donor contributions. It will be operational by December 28.

The Government of Israel, in cooperation with United Israel Appeal, is sending two shipments of medical supplies to Venezuela valued at $350,000.

Local Response

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

The GOV Ministry of Health is coordinating activities in the affected areas and reinforcing epidemiological surveillance, with teams in shelters to ensure early detection and diagnosis of health problems.

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
USAID/OFDA Transport and technical support for Surface Water Purification Systems
December 26, 1999
Total USAID funding to date
Total DoD funding to date*
Total USG funding to date

*This level of funding is in addition to the $20 million authorized by President Clinton, which has not yet been obligated.