May the Rain Stop in Venezuela

Photo Feature by Caridad

Flooding in Miranda, Venezuela

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 10 — Back in February or March, Venezuelans still looked to the clouds anxiously hoping to get from them the water they needed so desperately.

The lack of this precious resource had led to power outages, forest fires and shortages of water in homes. At that time no one imagined that in less than eight months things would radically change.

No one dreamed that by this time they would be looking to the sky with despair, praying to see the sun instead of large gray storm clouds that have not ceased to blanket the earth with all the rain that had been absent for more than a year.

In Venezuela, a good part of the housing is constructed in the mountains, especially in the northern part of the country. However, home builders have not always kept in mind the danger this bears. The reality is that these are “no man’s lands” and those with few resources see them as a great opportunity for a place to live.

Beyond this economic detail, mountains here are all over; it’s difficult to avoid them. And when it rains — nonstop for weeks on end — the earth begins to soften and give way as if it were some scene in a movie – but it isn’t.

People from the state of Vargas still recall with fright the mudslides they suffered more than ten years ago. This time they haven’t been of the same intensity, perhaps because the government has taken measures to evacuate certain areas at greater risk of collapsing. Nonetheless, many people refuse to leave their homes and all their belongings; they prefer to run the risk of losing everything.

In the state of Miranda, people are facing a different situation because there’s not as much danger posed by mudslides as by floods. Many neighborhoods have been completely submerged. A hospital patient told me that his house is now underwater and that he’s had to seek shelter in a safer place.

I also spoke with a mother of six children (who was not more than 25 years old) wrapped in a towel that someone gave her; she lost everything with the cresting of the river over its banks, which has happened for the third time in two days.

Fortunately, even several hotels, though privately owned, have offered their rooms for those who have lost their houses or are in danger of losing them. The presidential home, El Palacio de Miraflores, has also offered some of its space for those who have been harmed.

Likewise, at the exits of markets one can obtain a book in exchange for leaving some food for those who are now forced to live in shelters. Through various means, the government and people in general are collecting water, food and clothes for those who have lost their homes.

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