Flood Waters Devastate Bolivia

By March 1, 2007

Bolivia (MNN) — Flooding in Bolivia has already consumed approximately 600,000 acres and caused at least 35 deaths. World Gospel Mission 's international ministries staff Dennis Johnson is on the ground in Santa Cruz.

Unusually high amounts of seasonal rain are the cause.

While the worst of the flooding is in Santa Cruz, the waters will have to run through a large portion of the lower elevated north on its way to the Amazon river.  Since that area is
so flat, the process could leave the 350,000 – 400,000 displaced people homeless for up to three months.

"That one kind of shocked me.  So we're not looking at being able to go and help in a situation and everything is going to be alright in a few weeks.  We're basically looking that its going to be a few months that we're going to have to endeavor with helping these people with needs they are going to have," said Johnson.

Over those three months, up to 300,000 head of cattle may be drowned.  "That area of Bolivia, that's what they subsist on, is cattle, so that's just going to be devastating even once they can go back to their communities and their home to basically have lost everything they have," Johnson said.  Many acres of crops have been destroyed as well.

People are being forced to find the nearest high ground to survive.  Trinidad, north of Santa Cruz, is one of these higher locations.  The city is surrounded by a dyke that has only 14 inches until the point before waters breach the dyke. 

Up to 15,000 people have come to Trinidad for safety.  The city has opened all its school's to house more people than ideally should be housed in these buildings.

"One of the things they are going to be facing soon will be adequate drinking water because everything is under water.  There was just a heart rendering picture of a lady there having to cook the meal on the stove having to stand in almost waist high water. Just nothing else to do.  To cook the soup they're using the water their standing in," Johnson said.

The greatest need is mosquito nets to avoid mosquito-borne diseases.

WGM has gathered food supplies and living supplies to donate to Bolivia.  They are now working on organizing more aid centered in Trinidad. 

The tragedy has opened many doors for WGM to share Christ.  "Everything that we do is based on that," said Johnson.  Community leaders are aware of WGM's motivation and mission.  "We want to not only help with humanitarian needs but we're interested in meeting spiritual needs," he added.  Local pastors have been key components as
they are now able to reach hundreds of people that they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to interact with.

Donations can be made at WGM's Web site.
  Pray for the ministry to stay strong in the
coming months and for the people of Bolivia who are without a home.

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