Disasters & Accidents

Aid en route to central Venezuela after heavy rains

Caracas, Oct 10 (EFE).- Students, rescue workers, public institutions, non-governmental organizations, athletes and individuals on Monday were collecting assorted in-kind donations to help out the hundreds of people in the Venezuelan city of Las Tejerias affected by the overflowing of a creek that killed at least 36 people.

At least 56 local residents are missing in the flooding, according to Interior and Justice Minister Remigio Ceballos, who spoke from the presidential command center set up in Las Tejerias.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told reporters while walking through the town viewing the damage that “We are still searching. We have 317 homes completely destroyed and 757 affected” by the flooding.

“People are coming voluntarily to make donations,” Wilbany Leon, the director of the Highway Angels road-clearing brigade, told EFE as he took in food, water and clothing at his workplace in eastern Caracas.

The brigade, which includes motorized rescue workers and paramedics, is organizing the donations that will be transferred starting Monday into the affected area some 70 kilometers (42 miles) from the Venezuelan capital by authorities, Civil Protection teams and neighborhood organizations.

A similar movement has been launched at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), where a group of students set up a collection center to take in aid all this week.

Meanwhile, the Caracas Lions baseball team invited its fans to bring donations to the stadium and, while there, to watch the players go through their practice sessions.

“Many people have shown up, more than just to see the practices … It’s out of that feeling of unity among Venezuelans,” said Andriw Sanchez, the club’s press chief, who added that “a huge amount” of donations had been received throughout Monday morning.

The team will keep the collection center open all week.

“Baseball lovers who want to contribute something to those people in Las Tejerias can come … and bring non-perishable food, clothing in good condition, baby formula for the kids … and if you bring something you can come in for the practice and see your favorite ballplayer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Caritas NGO set up a collection center in Aragua state, where the affected town is located, to take in non-perishable food, although for now it has urged people not to bring in used clothing to prevent the collection bins from overflowing.

And the Food Ministry reported on Twitter that dry foods and animal protein have been brought to distribution centers in that state “to guarantee the sacred human right to food of the families affected by the (flooding).”

A number of posts on the social networks are taking note of the small initiatives people are undertaking to try and help those affected by the torrential rains in Aragua, while the regular communications media are repeating the invitation to the public to go to the larger collection centers, like those set up at some government ministry headquarters.

EFE verified the presence of a number of NGOs in Las Tejerias, along with several United Nations agencies that are backing up the authorities’ response to the tragedy in an operation involving more than 1,000 officials and staffers.

EFE hp/sb/enb/bp

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