FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, Jan. 30 2008) - U.S. Army South sent a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team to Bolivia this week to survey the damage caused by recent flooding there.

The team consists of a civil affairs officer, an engineer officer, a medical officer and an aviation plans officer who will augment the U.S. embassy's military group and work with disaster-response personnel already in Bolivia from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

"A HAST team's primary purpose is to assess the overall situation in terms of humanitarian needs following a disaster," said Lt. Col. Kevin Charlton, the team leader and U.S. Army South officer in charge of civil affairs. "We go in and see where the damage is done, what kind of response can be delivered, and then forward that assessment up to the higher levels so they can make a judgment of whether we should or can provide more material support, or more logistical support, or whatever support they deem is appropriate."

On Jan. 21 the Bolivian government declared a national state of emergency and has since requested assistance from the international community. Government officials report that the flooding has killed 30 people, affected nearly 25,000 families, and caused more than $30 million in damage.

In addition to directing the deployment of U.S. Army South's HAST, U.S. Southern Command in Miami has donated $44,000 in relief supplies to affected communities in the Bolivian departments of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, La Paz, Oruro and Potosi.

Bolivia's national weather service expects the rains to continue for several more weeks.

(Eric Atkisson, serves with the U.S. Army South Public Affairs Office

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16