PLEASE help SHARE respond to this emergency by making a donation today.
from our friends in Guarjila, El Salvador: All of El Salvador has had 11 days of rain caused by a tropical depression. Whole communities have been evacuated. [34,838 of whom 24,162 are in 267 shelters. The other 10,676 are staying with family and neighbors. They are still trying to verify the conditions of the people in the shelters] In the country thirty-two people have died, some are disappeared, bridges are down, houses damaged, roads are washed out, and they have not assessed the losses to the harvest. Guarjila has not flooded but the farmers have lost their entire harvest. Emergency aid is beginning to arrive the communities. As I write we still have not seen the sun and it is still raining…
from our friends in Ellacuria, El Salvador: I would like to tell you that we have had rain for 11 days in our country. Our community has seen alarming losses in harvest and there have been many sick children.
We are really concerned with the last set of data that the civil protection (like FEMA) has given: 586 shelters with 52,648 people in them, and of these people 12,892 are families. In Chalatenango: 24 shelters with 983 people. These are in different places, for example: Vainilla del Carisal, Tejutla, Sona de San Fernando, Arcatao and Portillo las Foresetc
This storm does not have a name but according to the GOES (Government of El Salvador) more are affected than in all the history of disasters. It is said that twice as much water as Hurricane Mitch and Ida has fallen in this “event.”
On the 18th a National Disaster was declared and all classes were suspended for two weeks. We were unresolved on how to resolve the situation. They are announcing a cold front. We are praying for the people in the shelter and doing what we can, but not for much time nor with much because we lost our harvest.
Take care and tell the people that we need their prayers, greetings and hugs to all
Tenth Day of Heavy Rain Pounds El Salvador October 19, 2011
As torrential rains in El Salvador continue on this tenth day of record-breaking rain, evacuations continue and hopes of returning home seem far off.
As heavy rains continue, leaders like Alex Torres, President of UCRES, are concerned that the situation will continue to worsen: “The soil is saturated, and we think that more rain today will cause more damage than has happened in the past week.”
In the Balsamo Range, at least 375 people were evacuated in the middle of the night as a large crack in the mountainside formed, threatening a massive mudslide. Civil Protection has asked people to remain on high alert for mudslides; on Sunday night, five people were buried alive when a mudslide brought earth, rocks and trees on top of their homes in the municipality of Ciudad Arce, La Libertad.
Official numbers as of October 18th count nearly 35,000 evacuees in 267 shelters through out the country. The death toll has not risen since the weekend; 32 people have lost their lives in this most recent emergency. The September 15th dam continues to release high amounts of water, signifying continued flooding and high water levels in the Lower Lempa region.
In the Bajo Lempa region, national media reports that hundreds of people refuse to evacuate but, local leaders share a different story. Over 50 people in the community of Nueva Esperanza were trapped beginning Sunday, when the waters rose too high to wade out. As rains pounded, Sister Nohemi of the Pequeña Comunidad and other community members huddled on rooftops and in the church bell-tower to avoid the meters-high water.
As Irma from ACUDESBAL, a local organization, shared with us, “here in the Bajo Lempa, we’re all one family. People care about each other, and worry about each other.” In the end, it was the young men in the ACUDESBAL-trained rescue group that were able to evacuate stranded community members.
While some people wait for evacuation, others have hunkered down where they are. Communities like Los Naranjos, La Pita and Puerto Nuevo, South of San Carlos Lempa in Tecoluca, have been cut off since Friday, when the road flooded. These communities have sought refuge in community centers until the water recedes, but they have no access to food, water or other basic supplies. The only way to access these families, and bring them medicine and sustenance, is by boat.
Other communities face yet another problem—the places where they have sought shelter are “unofficial,” not recognized by the government. At these unofficial shelters, there is no government support for supplies. There are shelters throughout the country without enough food, drinking water or sanitation supplies (toilet paper, soap) to provide for people. The Human Rights Ombudsperon, Oscar Luna, has said that Civil Protection has not provided the assistance necessary for those affected. Meléndez, Director of Civil Protection, has confirmed that there are over 10,000 people in “unofficial” shelters who have received no government support.
The forecast predicts continuing rains today, October 19th, that will tail off as a cold front enters Central America. After the rains stop, it will be at least a few days for the waters to recede and people to return home.
PLEASE help SHARE respond to this emergency by making a donation today.
Another way to donate: If you are at all interested in donating to the relief effort-please make donations for relief funds to Voices on the Border ON BEHALF OF ANADES (a Salvadoran NGO working with the most affected communities).
Here is their website, where you can find more information about the current situation and make a donation… http://votb.org/ (Click on “DONATE NOW”).
Sonia’s Story from the Bajo Lempa
Heavy rains continue to pound down on crops, homes and spirits on Wednesday as accumulated rainfall and flooding reached record levels in communities near the Lempa River. Over 32,000 people have evacuated their homes to seek shelter in schools, churches and albergues. In San Marcos Lempa over 750 people are seeking refuge from rains and flooding worse than Hurricane Mitch. At least two more communities will be arriving to these shelters this evening as the river continues to rise.
Sonia Silva arrived at the Centro Escolar Miguel Dueñas, on Sunday after the shelter near her community of Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) flooded. Sonia evacuated her home with her two young children on Saturday, and after one night in the shelter in Nueva Esperanza, was forced to evacuate again. Sonia’s husband, like many men in their community, stayed behind to guard homes and minimize damage but, with water levels now reaching the roofs, he arrived at the school yesterday, much to the relief of Sonia and her family.
Not everyone was as fortunate as Sonia’s family. Many people underestimated the severity of the flood and are now trapped between swelling rivers.
“These people were on their roofs for three days in Nueva Esperanza without rest, without food, waiting and getting soaked,” said Guadalupe of ACUDESBAL, a community organization and SHARE partner in the Bajo Lempa region.
Many people who tried to wait out the rains are sick with painful fungi on their feet from standing for days in the contaminated water. People who initially tried to wait out the storm continue to arrive, crowding shelters that are already operating at twice their capacity.
Sonia, her two young children, husband, and 70 other people from Nueva Esperanza are living in one small classroom, each family sharing one mattress. Although her current situation is difficult, Sonia is most worried about what she and her family will find when they return to their home.
“We have lost everything, our corn, our home, pigs, chickens, mattresses, clothes, everything. My husband can’t believe it, we thought we would be fine this year, it was a great year for our corn. Now we have also lost the seeds for next year’s crop. When we return there will be a lot of sickness, without shelters, clothes or food. At least here we will have rice and beans.”
With most of the corn and bean crops ruined, many families in the Bajo Lempa are in similar situations and will not have any income to rebuild their homes and plant crops for next year. In response to this crisis SHARE will accompany communities in the Bajo Lempa to replant crops and provide assistance to help families rebuild. Please support these families as they rebuild their lives by donating today.