Hurricane Ida strikes El Salvador

Brian Sellers-Peterson, from Episcopal Relief and Development is traveling to El Salvador to meet with Episcopal Church partners as they assess the needs following the devastation from Hurricane Ida:

Hurricane Ida hit El Salvador late Saturday, fed by 145-kilometer-per-hour winds and causing heavy flooding. The country’s Civil Protection authorities reported that 91 people were killed, 60 missing, and hundreds injured.

Following Ida’s assault, Episcopal Relief & Development has been in contact with its program partners, the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of El Salvador, Asociacion CREDHO and Asociacion Mangle. The agency is standing ready to support the partners with emergency relief to devastated communities.

“We are working with our local partners to collect information, contact affected communities, and assess the current situation,” said Matt St. John, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Once the assessment is complete, we will formulate a response based on the needs and available resources,” St. John said. “In the meantime, the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador is providing pastoral care in several affected communities, including in the area of Bajo Lampa and the department of San Vicente.”

El Salvador’s central region was hardest hit, with the Chinchontepec volcano causing a mudslide near San Vicente that claimed several victims. According to Civil Defense chief Jorge Melendez, the number of fatalities could rise as rescue services continue combing the eastern regions. Major roads into the country are blocked, five bridges have collapsed, and thousands of people are in emergency housing.

The Most Rev. Martín Barahona, Primate of the Anglican Church of the Region of Central America (IARCA), said, “We are praying for the families and are in communication with other institutions and sister churches at the national, regional and international level to plan our level of action right now and after the emergency.”

Bishop Barahona considers Ida “the worst natural event of the year to strike El Salvador. It intensifies the social and economic problems with which we live. We pray to God for the life of our families, communities and countries.”

To help people affected by Hurricane Ida, please donate online to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund here, or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief & Development, Hurricane Relief Fund, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

The Fundacion Cristosal also supports the Diocese of El Salvador. Donations can be made here.

Episcopal Life reports here.

Press release from the Diocese of El Salvador below.

El Salvador in a national emergency

Verapaz — symbol of a tragedy

San Salvador, 8 November 2009

At some 51 kms (31 miles) to the east of the Salvadoran capital (San Salvador), one finds Verapaz, a town of the central department of San Vicente, which Hurricane Ida converted into a symbol of a tragedy.

Verapaz, whose original name in the Náhuatl language was “Akiski” is translated as “the Bobbin.” It was devastated by an avalanche of earth and boulders that separated from Volcano Chinchontepec in the early hours of last Saturday. The avalanche that detached from the volcano’s cone spread out more than six kms (approx. 3.8 miles) and took in its path dozens of humble homes of this town.

Apolonia Durán, visibly upset, narrated how she and her large family were trapped in her house by the mire and rocks that came down from Chinchontepec. Durán is one of the 99 families lodged in the neighboring town of San Isidro.

Meanwhile, Santos González, a survivor, continued to look for some of his fifteen relatives midst the displaced.

Floods, destabilizations and other events produced from rains are the most frequent event in the history of disasters of this Central American country.

By Sunday night, the number of fatalities in the department of San Vicente had reached 50 in preliminary findings. President of the Republic, Mauricio Funes, declared a national emergency and said that the scope of damage caused by this tragedy was incalculable.

During a national cabinet meeting, Funes said, “Material and spiritual rebuilding of the affected people will be essential.” The departments most damaged by Ida’s passage are San Vicente, San Salvador, La Libertad, Cuscatlán and La Paz.

The storm produced 355 millimeters (14 inches) of rain in four hours — Hurricane Mitch produced that amount of rain in four days, an event that happened eleven years ago, according to authorities of the Ministry of the Environment.

Verapaz, near neighboring Tepetitan (in Náhuatl pipil, it means, “place between hills”) was one of the most hit towns by the tragedy. On the national level, according to figures on Sunday, there are 124 dead, 61 missing, 7000 evacuees, and an estimated hundreds of injured.

El Salvador en emergencia nacional…

Verapaz símbolo de una tragedia

San Salvador, 8 de noviembre de 2009. A unos 51 kilómetros al oriente de la capital salvadoreña, se encuentra Verapaz, un poblado del para-central departamento de San Vicente, que la tormenta Ida convirtió en símbolo de una tragedia.

Verapaz, cuyo nombre original fue “Akiski” en lengua náhuatl, se traduce como: El Carrete, fue arrasado por alud de tierra y rocas que se desprendieron del volcán de Chinchontepec, durante las primeras horas del pasado sábado. El alud que se desprendió del cono alcanzó más de seis kilómetros y llevo a su paso decenas de humildes viviendas de ese poblado.

Apolonia Duran, visiblemente consternada, narró como ella y su numerosa familia quedó atrapada en su propia casa por el fango y rocas que bajaron del Chinchontepec. Durán forma parte de las 99 familias albergadas en el cantón vecino de San Isidro.

Mientras que Santos González, un hombre sobre viviente, continuaba buscando a algunos de sus quince parientes, entre albergados.

Las inundaciones, deslizamientos y otros eventos derivados de las lluvias son el más frecuente en la historia de los desastres, de este país centroamericano.

En horas de la noche de este domingo, las víctimas mortales en el departamento de San Vicente eran cincuenta, en cifras preliminares. Mientras que el Presidente de la República Mauricio Funes anunció emergencia nacional y dijo que la magnitud de los daños de esta tragedia era incalculable.

“Será esencial la reconstrucción material y espiritual de las personas afectadas”, anunció Funes en Cadena Nacional. Los departamentos más dañados por el paso de la tormenta Ida fueron San Vicente, San Salvador, La Libertad, Cuscatlán y La Paz.

La tormenta Ida, provocó 355 milímetros de lluvia en cuatro horas, lo que provocó la Tormenta Mitch en cuatro días hace once años; según autoridades del Ministerio de Medio Ambiente.

Verapaz, junto al vecino Tepetitan que en náhuatl pipil, significa: Lugar entre cerros, figuran entre los poblados más golpeados por la tragedia. A nivel nacional, según estadísticas de este domingo, las víctimas mortales fueron 124, mientras que 61 estan desaparecidas, 7 mil personas evacuadas, se estimaban centenares de heridas.

from the Office of Communications of the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador

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