Friday 15 January 2016
Worst flooding in 50 years hits ParaguayThe flooded Paraná River, which runs through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. (Derek Locke / ShelterBox)
The scenes of devastation in Paraguay go on and on, as our ShelterBox response teams assess the need for shelter following the worst floods in 50 years. In some places this means the waters lap over flood defences built nine metres above the usual water level.
The floods, which have forced 130,000 people from their homes in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion and the surrounding areas, have been caused by heavy El Niño rains. El Niño is a climate phenomenon that creates complex changes in weather patterns, from droughts in Australia and the Pacific, to intense rainfall across South America.
ShelterBox is working with the Paraguayan Red Cross to carry out assessments and distribute aid.
An initial shipment of 2,000 shelter kits is on its way from prepositioned stores in Panama. These shelter kits contain heavy-duty tarpaulins and tools that can be used to create emergency structures and repair damaged buildings.
ShelterBox last provided aid in Paraguay to communities deluged by floods in 2014. Shelter kits proved to be vital lifelines for many people, such as Cinecia Valdes.
Cinecia Valdes, who received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, talks about her experience of flooding in 2014.
We revisited 72 year-old Cinecia, who lives with her young grandchild, two months after she received a shelter kit. Before receiving the kit, she had spent several days sleeping in the street before moving to a flimsy and overcrowded emergency shelter.
However, once armed with the tools and materials included in the shelter kit, two of Cinecia’s sons were able to help repair her home once the floodwaters had receded. They used all of the tools to make the repairs and fixed a tarpaulin over her roof. This not only made the house waterproof, but provided an overhang that created shade and protection from the rain.
Cinecia told us that she was very happy with the repairs made to the house: ‘I was very satisfied with the shelter kit – it contained the things we needed.
‘It is much more tranquil at home than at the emergency shelter. It is better for me, as I have diabetes and high blood pressure.’
Our current teams in Paraguay are working hard to find families in need and give them the same tools we gave Cinecia, so that they too can feel peace and safety once more.
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