A few of the homes damaged in communities in Tachira, West Venezuela, after Hurricane Eta’s torrential rains flooded many communities on Nov. 7, 2020. [Photo: West Venezuela Union]

December 2, 2020 | Barquisimeto, Venezuela | Yosainy Oyaga de Colina and Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Venezuela sprang into action to help hundreds of families affect by the torrential rains that overflowed rivers and flooded communities in the State of Táchira last month.

Many municipal districts were left without power and enough potable water, local authorities said.

“Some of the first communities to be impacted by the rains were in the Rubio community where 3,345 persons were affected in the first week of the flooding,” said Ever Becerra, communication director for the church in the Southwest Venezuela Conference.  “But estimates of the affected families surpass 10,000,” he continued. Another 750 people were affected, including 50 Adventist families in the Santa Ana community and several neighboring communities, Becerra added.

Julio Palacio, ADRA regional director in the Southwest Venezuela Conference stands with a group of volunteers from Pregonera in Tachira, pose for a photograph, with food for affected families. [Photo: Courtesy of Karina de Palacio]

“We are truly concerned about the disaster of Nov. 7 that caused many families to lose everything,” said Pastor Marcial Escobar, president of the church in southwest Venezuela.

Julio Palacio, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) regional director, said that some 3,030 food bags have been distributed throughout the most affected communities, thanks to the assistance of 200 church member volunteers. Food items included non-perishable foods, arepas, plantains, vegetables, clothing items, and more, said Palacio.  In addition, a group of professionals offered free medical services to more than 600 persons.

“We put out a call to the membership to donate any non-perishable foods, clothes in good condition, shoes, medicines, mattresses, sheets, blankets, water, and baby bottles,” said Palacio. “Despite the [economic] situation in the country, so much came in, including school supplies, that we were able to bring hope to so many families.”

The Adventist Church’s BASE rescue team assists persons in one of the affected communities in Táchira, West Venezuela, soon after Hurricane Eta flooded homes. [Photo: West Venezuela Union]

Pastor Orlando Ramírez, president of the church in West Venezuela, said that the union immediately made funds available to go toward the disaster in Táchira.

“The funds we sent went to help in providing food for families during the first days of the disaster and after assessing the damage, we activated an emergency plan for ADRA International,” said Ramírez. “We are looking at how to take care of the church members who have been directly affected and fix the flooding damage done to the only Adventist Church in Santa Elena in Táchira.”

Andrea Rojas, a volunteer and friend of one of the affected families, said that they were still in shock.  “They lost their house and the two cars they had when these were swept away by the waters, and said it would be difficult for them to be able to recover what they had.” What’s more, Rojas said that the families are staying in their damaged homes in Santa Helena. “Some of the families are in a terrible situation because there is no place available for them to relocate, they have no place to go, and some have moved to stay with family members,” Rojas said.

Karina de Palacio (center) women’s and children’s ministries director, takes a selfie with church member volunteers as they put together school supply kits for children affected by the flooding in Táchira, last month. [Photo: Courtesy of Karina de Palacio].

Church leaders in West Venezuela said additional assistance will continue to be provided during the next weeks to those affected in Táchira. The church recently distributed school supplies and toiletry kits to dozens of children in the affected communities through a special one-day vacation bible school activity there.

To learn more about the Adventist Church in West Venezuela, visit uvoc.com.ve

Kelly Santander contributed to this report.


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