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Relief headed to Venezuela continuescomment (0)

January 6, 2000

Relief has continued to pour into Venezuela following flooding in December that left thousands dead and many more homeless.

To date Southern Baptists have given $80,000 to provide food, water, clothing, medicines and mattresses. In addition, a disaster assessment team from the International Mission Board (IMB) was sent to the country Dec. 27 to help plan the steps in providing physical care and spiritual counsel.

Area missionaries and relief teams said the greatest concern is that food and water would run out before more arrives.

Workers said they also need prayers, asking that Southern Baptists pray that they remain healthy both physically and emotionally in the face of great suffering and misery.

Along with the expertise of the five members in areas of volunteers, finances and disaster relief, the IMB team brought in a portable water purification unit that is capable of purifying up to 120 gallons per hour.

The team traveled to the coastal area (Litoral) and the eastern portion of Miranda State, where a dam had broken leaving thousands homeless. There were also a number of dead where entire settlements were wiped out.

The assessment team said the situation in Venezuela is “slightly improved,” because they have more information on the extent of damage.

The team said they were also beginning to identify the areas of greatest priority

A national pastor reported that the trauma is deep, especially among the children.

Just before Christmas, a group of clowns from a Caracas-area church presented a skit to about 30 children who had lost their homes in landslides. When someone in the skit mentioned the word “rain,” the children began crying, and they had to quickly move to another activity.

Pastor Juan Machado, who is aiding the residents of el Mamo, said he hopes to get this Light and Truth Baptist Church cleaned out and rebuilt enough to begin ministering to the people of Maiquetia.

The assessment team also visited the Rio Chico area in eastern Miranda State. This area was impacted by rising waters as the El Guapo reservoir broke sending a 30-foot wall of water toward the sea.

In one community, only 17 of the 330 homes remain. The town is still inaccessible except by boat. Another community was completely destroyed, leveling 94 houses and leaving more than 1,000 homeless.

As in other areas, the greatest need is clean water and food. Relief teams said there will also be a need for job skills and reconstruction of homes.

The Red Cross estimates that the death toll in Venezuela will be at least 40,000. The figure for those who have lost their homes is around 400,000 with 60,000 homes destroyed.

The Red Cross also reported that some 450 children were in relocation centers without any surviving parent, and around 581 children have been reported as missing by family members that survived the floods.

Donations for the relief efforts in Venezuela should be sent to the disaster relief fund of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. (TAB)

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