Vulnerability of informal settlements to environmental risks such as weather-related events are shaped not only by the socio-economic particularities of the context in which these emerge, but also by the ways in which the inhabitants of these settlements experience, conceive and relate to their local environment. This qualitative case study aims to provide an understanding of people-environment relationships in El Naranjal, an expanding informal settlement within the metropolitan area of Caracas, Venezuela, against a backdrop of increasing episodes of rainfall. People-environment relationships are understood as multiple, complex and contextual, where environment is comprised of the physical, interpersonal, social and cultural aspects of the context people interact with. The study demonstrates that an in depth understanding of people-environment relationships can be gained through exploring residents’ experiences of place and community in El Naranjal. Over a fieldwork period of eight months, data was gathered using in-depth and walking interviews, participant observation and group activities. Environment and environmental risks such as rainfall were understood, experienced and related to differently by individuals with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, needs and agendas. Their diverse experiences and responses were shaped by pre-existing issues of geographical segregation, poor infrastructure, lack of participation and government support within the communities of El Naranjal. This underlines some of the gaps between national policy making on environmental, land tenure, risk management and participation matters and residents’ understandings and experiences of issues of their places and communities. Thus, this study emphasises the need to approach environmental risks as adding to, and amplifying the existing issues that residents of informal settlements deal with on a day to day basis. In doing so, it challenges views of informal settlement communities as homogeneous, illegal and paralyzed by poverty. Instead, it highlights their central role in the making of cities, as well as their heterogeneity and capacity to innovate in the face of mounting risks.