Sun, 22 May 2022

Caracas, April 28, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Nicolas Maduro government announced a special emergency fund for relief and reconstruction as Venezuela suffers from torrential rainfall.

Governors from affected areas can access a renewable 10 million bolivar fund (around US $2.2 million) to rebuild houses, repair public infrastructure and provide assistance to victims.

Heavy rains across the country in recent days have caused massive flooding, especially in the western states of Zulia, Merida, Tachira and Trujillo.

According to the Caribbean nation's National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (INAMEH), there were 180 mm of precipitation over 48 hours in the worst-hit areas, three times the monthly average for April, and significant rainfall is expected in the coming days as well.

Mudslides have destroyed houses and cut off roads, while damaged infrastructure has caused electricity, water supply and telecommunication outages.

Additionally, the overflowing of dikes and other protective barriers has caused agricultural areas to be flooded. Campesinos from the fertile Sur del Lago area showed pictures of lost crops under water, particularly plantains. At least 70,000 sown hectares of land were reportedly lost.

"We should raise our response capabilities tenfold," the Venezuelan president said in a broadcast on Tuesday where he also called on grassroots organizations to "prepare themselves and coordinate with regional authorities." Announcing an emergency decree he added that the government would spend "whatever is necessary" and provide all the machinery for reconstruction operations.

According to local media, over 20,000 families had seen their houses compromised by the extreme weather. There were unconfirmed reports of three deaths in Merida state as a result of the floods.

Maduro likewise pledged support for rural producers that lost their crops or cattle. He went on to instruct Public Works Minister Ral Paredes to set up a plan to repair damaged roadways. Housing, healthcare and other social missions have likewise begun tending to the most affected areas.

The declared state of emergency also led the Venezuelan armed forces to deploy across the country. Images shared on social media showed servicemen performing repair works alongside communities, rescuing families in isolated places and helping move cattle to higher ground.

Venezuelan armed forces assist cattle ranchers in Sur del Lago, Zulia State (@dhernandezlarez).

For his part, Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos announced that more than 3,000 officers from different security bodies were working in the hard-hit western states to ensure families' safety and collaborate in reconstruction work. He also announced the distribution of 25,000 tons of food in the coming days and called on local authorities to remain vigilant with more precipitation forecast.

Tachira governor Freddy Bernal stated that 10 municipalities were suffering from higher-than-usual rainfall but that there were no victims or material damages to date. However, he called on the Maduro government to send more heavy machinery to the border state in order to maintain and repair roadways.

Caracas has likewise registered heavy rainfall over the last week, with a mudslide destroying several houses in the working-class neighborhood of Catia in the western part of the capital. However, an early evacuation order meant that there were no victims.

Mayor Carmen Melendez said that 22 families had been preemptively moved to shelters while authorities monitor at-risk areas.

 

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Ricardo Vaz | source: venezuelanalysis

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