Uruguayan Armed Forces Assist Victims of Flooding

Uruguayan Armed Forces Assist Victims of Flooding

By Dialogo
October 22, 2015

Uruguay's Armed Forces, working with the National Emergency Response System (SINAE) and the Ministry of Social Welfare (MIDES), provided crucial assistance to civilians during a recent period of heavy rains and flooding.

Of the country's 19 departments, 11 – Artigas, Canelones, Colonia, Durazno, Florida, Maldonado, Rivera, Rocha, Soriano, Tacuarembó and Treinta y Tres – experienced flooding in August and September. And as of late September, authorities in Artigas, Durazno, Rivera, and Soriano were still searching for missing persons.

The Army began helping evacuate victims in Durazno – one of the departments hardest hit by the flooding – on August 13, after authorities activated the National Emergency Response System. It dispatched five vehicles in support of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 13th Infantry Battalion and also established a refugee tent camp in a sports complex for the evacuees from Durazno; additionally, the Armed Forces provided trucks and light and amphibious vehicles to help evacuate flood victims, with the Army establishing two field kitchens, which provided about 1,100 meals for 4,879 displaced persons.

Uruguayan Undersecretary for National Defense Jorge Menéndez visited Durazno on the day the Army launched its relief efforts there to supervise the humanitarian mission, surveying the area by air and land, speaking with the department’s civil authorities, and visiting the missions coordinated by the Armed Forces and the SINAE.

The SINAE, Armed Forces conduct humanitarian efforts

The humanitarian relief operations were conducted efficiently and effectively by the Armed Forces in cooperation with SINAE. That government organization was established by Law 18.601, “which is what allows us to perform these humanitarian efforts in conjunction with the Military,” said Colonel Gustavo Gil, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of SINAE, in an interview with Diálogo

SINAE's mission is carried out by government organizations whose objectives include working to prevent the risks linked to natural and man-made catastrophes. It also plans on how to respond to such events and to mitigate their impact and participates in post-disaster recovery efforts. Meanwhile, the Army's efforts to help civilians affected by the flooding in Durazno and Treinta y Tres were organized in cooperation with the Defense and Civil Protection Division.

“Among the functions that come into the Defense and Civil Protection Division’s purview is that of planning and coordinating the training of citizens, either collectively or individually, regarding the behavior and procedures necessary to face emergency situations, such as the recent flooding.”

The division, which also is charged with updating any and all records, reports, assessments, and plans that deal with emergency responses nationwide, also works with the 3rd Department of the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Army Education System on how to instruct Military personnel.

SINAE and the U.S. cooperate on training course

Part of this training included a course organized called “Administrative Bases for Risk Management,” which was held September 14-16 in Uruguay as part of a comprehensive education program dedicated to promoting competence among those responsible for managing responses to emergencies.

SINAE organized the course and received instructional support from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), which is an organizational unit within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its main objective of the course, directed by government and private organizations, was to educate citizens on prevention and how to prepare to respond to emergencies, such as the recent flooding.

Representatives from the Armed Forces, Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande, the Red Cross, the Commissariat of Salto, the Regional University of the North, Hospital de Clínicas, the Interior and Public Health Ministries, the Medical Federation of the Interior, and other invitees participated in the course.

“The course aimed to offer the tools necessary to improve the development of all those who deal with tasks linked to emergency and disaster risk management and reduction,” Col. Gil said. “The tools provided to the participants deal mostly with administrative processes and are based on planning, organization, and logistical techniques. This way, the various tasks [of emergency response] can be modified with a simple scientific approach adjusted to meet the unique challenges presented by the distinct nature of each emergency.”