Bolivia Hit Again by Devastating Floods

March 17, 2008

Just as Bolivians make some progress in their recovery from the February 2007 flooding, another blow is delivered and a second national disaster is declared as it receives even more flooding.

Last year Bolivia experienced its worst flooding in 25 years, killing 35 people, drowning 22,500 head of cattle, and destroying nearly 500,000 acres of cropland. Over 90,000 people were affected in some way due to the devastation. Homes, furniture, personal belongings and crops were lost.

December began the early arrival of another rainy season. This time the flooding lasted for 41 days – beginning on December 15, 2007 and continuing until January 24, 2008.

Because of all the turmoil, confusion, and lack of electricity, it took a while before Christian Aid ever heard from ministry leader, Eliu Loras. He told us that the first floor of their church was completely underwater and the second floor was being used as a shelter for people who lost everything. He had just received news that 60 people had died in the eastern lowlands and more than 40,000 people were homeless. He also said, "Rivers have broken their banks and floodwaters are threatening to breach a raised road surrounding the provincial capital of Trinidad – home to some 90,000 people."

Serving Jesus Christ Mission in Bolivia was already equipped with two boats due to their river evangelism outreach. Last year they were able to reach some of the victims with medical care. As the year was drawing to a close, these missionaries had been able to distribute clothing, blankets and other help to needy families. Bibles were given to those who were interested in the preaching of the Word by the workers. These men of God answered their questions as they worked steadily in giving aid and encouragement to all those in need.

This year the ministry boats were used to evacuate the people who were living along the rivers. Because of this most recent flooding disaster, more people are dead, more families are displaced, and more acreage has been destroyed. "Since the government aid is not enough or not quick enough in responding, we have been distributing bread and tents to as many people as we can," notes Pastor Loras. "The needs are overwhelming, but we pray that the Lord will keep us safe as we travel and we trust in His provision for blankets, food, clothing and medicines for the afflicted."