People walk in a street damaged by heavy rains in Verapaz, about 71 km (44 miles) east to San Salvador November 8, 2009. Credit: REUTERS/ Juan Carlos, Courtesy of Alertnet.org
More than 140 dead, 12,900 in shelters as slow-moving hurricane passes region

El Salvador: Oxfam assesses damage in wake of heavy rains and Hurricane Ida

“The damage is severe, and reconstruction and replacement of houses, infrastructure, and crops will take a long time.”
Carolina Castrillo
Oxfam America’s regional director for Central America
Published: 12 November 2009

Torrential rains and a slow-moving Hurricane Ida caused severe flooding in several regions of El Salvador over the weekend, resulting in more than 140 confirmed deaths, 60 people missing, and more than 12,900 people in shelters. A series of landslides and flooding throughout the country caused severe damage to roads and bridges and some landslides have reportedly swallowed entire neighborhoods.

Thanks to pre-positioned emergency response materials, Oxfam and partners in the region are working to support shelters in the coastal area of Puerto La Libertad, one of the hardest hit zones, as well as in San Salvador and municipalities in the departments of Zacatecoluca, San Vicente, and Cuscatlán in the initial stages of response, distributing mattresses, stoves, water tanks, food, cleaning equipment, and other items.

Needs are huge at the moment with only 119 shelters in schools and community buildings for the more than 12,900 people. President Funes declared a national state of emergency on Sunday evening. El Salvador’s National Civil Protection System is working in several affected communities; however, there is a lack of materials such as purified water, food, and shelters in good condition. Oxfam will continue to monitor and assess needs in these areas.

Carolina Castrillo, Oxfam America’s regional director for Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, based in San Salvador said: “We are getting constant reports now of damage to villages and roads, as well as extensive damage to agricultural crops. We are working with partners and local authorities to contribute to immediate response. The damage is severe, and reconstruction and replacement of houses, infrastructure, and crops will take a long time.”

The heavy rainfall was due to a low pressure system on El Salvador’s coastal area as well as Hurricane Ida, which is predicted to hit the US coast today and tonight. For now rainfall has stopped in the region, but additional rainfall with less intensity is predicted for the coming days.

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