Colombia and Venezuela – Flooding Rivers Affect Thousands

Heavy rain and swollen rivers in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela have caused flooding which has affected thousands of people since late July, 2018. Rainfall during the month of July has reached record levels in some areas of Venezuela.

Disaster authorities in Colombia report that flooding affected around 12,000 people in Guainia Department. Flooding has also been reported in Vichada, Meta and Aruaca departments.

Relief and humanitarian agencies in the area are already severely stretched. Border areas of Colombia have seen over 1 million migrants arrive from Venezuela in recent months, according to WFP (pdf), with over 350,000 of them in need of food assistance.

In Venezuela local media report that flooding has affected communities near swollen rivers in Bolívar, Amazonas and Monagas states.

Colombia

On 27 July 2018, the Colombia National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) reported floods in the city of Inirida, Guainia Department, affecting 3,534 families (around 12,000 people) due to intense and prolonged rain, which caused an overflow of the Inírida, Guaviare, Guanía and Atabapo rivers.

The UNGRD provided humanitarian assistance and delivered 1,300 kits, 1,450 bed sheets, and 1,450 blankets for affected families in Inirida as well as for the rural areas of Cacahual, Puerto Colombia, San Felipe and Guadalupe.

In Vichada Department around 6,000 families in the municipalities of Puerto Carreño, Cumaribo, La Primavera and Santa Rosalia have been affected by flooding from the overflowing Orinoco, Bita and Meta rivers, according to media reports.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, local media report that flooding has affected thousands of people in Bolívar, Amazonas and Monagas states.

Bolívar State

Unofficial figures suggest that more than 5,000 people throughout the Bolívar state have been affected or displaced by the floods caused by heavy rainfall and the overflowing Orinoco and Caroní rivers.

According to local media, the government in Venezuela have stopped issuing official figures claiming they are used for political gains by the opposition.

On Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, the Orinoco River stood at 17.40 metres at Ciudad Bolívar, a rise of 8cm in 24 hours. The record level is 18.04m set in August 1976.

As of 31 July, the level of the Caroní River in Ciudad Guayana reached 12.72 meters according to information issued by the Mayor’s Office of Caroní.

Monagas State

In Monagas state, local media said that 632 families (around 2,000 people) in Sotillo municipality required assistance from local disaster authorities after flooding from the Orinoco River that first began on 28 July.

Amazonas State

In the state of Amazonas around 2,700 people have been affected by the flooding of the Orinoco River, wih Puerto Ayacucho and Atabapo the worst hit, according tomedia reports.

Rainfall in Venezuela

Venezuela Meteorologist Luis Vargas reported that Santo Domingo del Táchira, a city located on the banks of the Apure River in in Táchira state, western Venezuela, recorded 818.6 mm of rainfall in July, 2018. This is the second highest monthly rainfall amount ever recorded in Venezuela according to Luis Vargas, and almost 500mm more than the monthly average.

The torrential rainfall that resulted in the Vargas tragedy in December 1999 remains the highest on record.

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Featured image: File photo for illustration only. The Orinoco River at its confluence with the Caroní River, from 2005. Credit: NASA