Flooding Across Three South American Countries – ShelterBox Responds

Paraguay 26 June 2014. Piles of garbage and inadequate sanitation facilities add to the misery of families driven from their homes by weeks of torrential rain, which has led to the Paraguay and Parana Rivers bursting their banks. (Paraguay Red Cross).
Paraguay 26 June 2014. Piles of garbage and inadequate sanitation facilities add to the misery of families driven from their homes by weeks of torrential rain, which has led to the Paraguay and Parana Rivers bursting their banks. (Paraguay Red Cross).

As sports fans watched the World Cup final last week they’d be forgiven for not knowing that away from the perfect conditions of the Estadio do Maracana, large swathes of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay had been suffering from heavy rain storms and resulting flooding for much of June and July. These deluges displaced enough people to fill the Maracana stadium almost three times over, yet they have barely registered on international news. 

In Paraguay rainstorms began back in May causing rivers to overflow, particularly in the southwest of the country. By 12 June, as the first matches of the World Cup began in neighbouring Brazil, almost 160,000 people were feared to have been affected. Current estimates suggest that as many as 200,000 people have now been affected by the flooding in six different provinces. Similar scenes have also been witnessed in neighbouring Brazil and Argentina, but despite the intense media focus drawn by the World Cup these dramatic events were largely overlooked.

In June of this year ShelterBox sent a team to carry out assessments of the situation and to establish whether we could be of assistance to aid efforts. At the time the ShelterBox team encountered evacuation centres full to capacity, with further rain forecast.

Paraguay 9 July 2014. Estelvina Gonzales, mother of three, is one of 15 people living in a church along the embankments of Asunción. The roof of Estelvina's house can be seen behind her at the end of what was once a street. The water has reached the foundations of the church. When asked where her and her children will go, Estelvina told us that she did not know. (Liz Odell/ShelterBox).
Paraguay 9 July 2014. Estelvina Gonzales, mother of three, is one of 15 people living in a church along the embankments of Asunción. The roof of Estelvina’s house can be seen behind her at the end of what was once a street. The water has reached the foundations of the church. When asked where her and her children will go, Estelvina told us that she did not know. (Liz Odell/ShelterBox).

Continuing our commitment to assisting the region, ShelterBox currently has a response team in country including Todd Finklestone (US), Derek Locke (US) and Agnes Leder (DE). Although the rainstorms have since subsided the need for displaced families to be sheltered remains, and the ShelterBox response team is currently working with partner agencies that will assist in distributing aid early next week.

Thanks to the support of our donors, a shipment of shelter repair kits and other vital aid is due to arrive in Asuncion today to be distributed by the ShelterBox team and Paraguay Red Cross. The ShelterBox response team is also conducting assessments in nearby Argentina, working with local Rotary groups in the country. Over-crowded evacuation centres have become a reality for families affected by the flooding in Argentina too and so the ShelterBox team is looking into the viability of transporting and distributing aid alongside the ongoing operations in Paraguay.

Although responding to flooding across multiple countries within one region has caused logistical challenges, ShelterBox is committed to assisting the affected families and continues to try to find ways to deliver aid, in collaboration with other organisations, across Paraguay and Argentina.

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