Catastrophic mud slides on Christmas Day, 1999, devastated 23 coastal mountainside communities near Caracas, Venezuela. Due to an unusually long and heavy rainfall that year, the mountainsides were highly unstable and eventually collapsed.
Mudflows, rock, and school-bus-sized boulders poured from the rivers through canals that were designed to bypass normal stormwater flows. These canals failed to function when filled with the mud, rock, and boulders. Dozens of roads and considerable other infrastructure elements including electrical power and sanitary sewer and water systems were destroyed.
AES collaborated with the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Central University of Venezuela, and the federal government of Venezuela to participate in the ecological design, river restoration, slope stabilization, and ecological landscape planning for the coastal mountainside area near Caracas. AES contributed to the early site planning meetings with governmental and community leaders in organized community re-design charrettes. Staff also organized and delivered educational events to facilitate rethinking and redesign of six of these communities.
Our team provided alternative stormwater management concepts and river restoration plans, as well as contributed to planning for large central parks with redesigned channel configurations that would not rely on small bypass canals, alleviating the risk that they would again fail.
A focus on the restoration and reforestation design of the failed mountain slopes with the use of soil bioengineering plans for stabilizing the failed slopes and channels upstream of each community resulted in the development of a new coastal park system that could occupy the new coastal deposition areas.
- Stormwater Management
- Planning + Design
- River Restoration
Coastal | Venezuela Disaster Response
(Venezuelan Coastal Mountain Range)