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Flash floods leave 400 natives families homeless

Neighbors reported continuous rains for 15 hours near the border with Colombia in a weekend of record lousy weather for the Caribbean in general. People improvised flotation devices to save children from the flash floods.


By Eira González.

At least 400 families in La Guajira, Zulia state, were left homeless after heavy rains that lasted for 15 hours this Monday, November 16. In some houses, the water reached halfway.

Guajira is one of the areas of Venezuela most affected by water shortages. There, the Wayuu and other inhabitants spend months without running water service over pipes.
But the same blue tanks Venezuelans all over have been forced to buy to deal with the water shortage were used as improvised flotation devices when the rains arrived.

One of those affected was Yurani Gonzalez, a mother of six, who told El Pitazo that she cried when she saw that the few belongings she had were floating as a result of the rains.

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A family of eight, mostly children, had to be carried out mounted on the lids of their plastic water tanks to prevent them from drowning. In a country that has seen its GDP drop by almost 90% since 2013 and is now entering its fourth year in hyperinflation, families had to see their scant belongings float away while they struggled to save relatives, offspring, and each other.

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The most affected are the families of the communities located south of the town of Paraguaipoa, the oldest known Wayuu and Guajiro settlement in Zulia state, which recently celebrated its 140th anniversary.

The children were out in makeshift canoes made with lids of water tanks and other materials to prevent them from drowning. Photo by Eira Gonzalez.

Some families took shelter in schools at Bella Vista, La Punta, and Los Aceitunitos. They claim that so far, they have not received any help from the municipal authorities or the Nicolas Maduro regime.

The communities north of the town of Paraguaipoa are also affected by the waters coming from the Paraguachon River.

“We are experiencing again, the floods of 2010. The water got into my house. I have to go to the dunes to build a rancho and wait for the water to dry up,” reported Yurani Gonzalez. There are still people affected by the 2010 floods, neighbors say.

Aurora Gonzalez, a resident of Guajira, said she had to leave her home to get her children out of the water.

“When I woke up, the water had entered my house, so I took my children out to the dune floating on the lid of my blue tanks,” she said.

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