Description of the disaster
On 31 May 2020, Tropical Storm Amanda hit El Salvador (as well as Guatemala, simultaneously) packing 40 to 70 km/h winds. It began as a low-pressure system off the coast of El Salvador and Guatemala on 28 May, becoming Tropical Depression 2E on 30 May and weakening over Guatemalan territory by 1 June. Then, it became a low-pressure system over Yucatán.
Records show that this storm dropped between 110.4 mm (Acajutla, Sonsonate) and 282.7 mm (Conchagua Volcano, La Unión) of water. According to forecasts, between 15 and 18 cyclones were expected to form in the Pacific Ocean between 15 May and 15 November.
El Salvador, with 6.6 million inhabitants in just 20,742 km2 of territory, is vulnerable to hydrometeorological phenomena. The situation is complicated by the fact that 87% of the population have limited economic resources.
Due to the level of rain, drainage and sewers become clogged. Deforestation also causes less water absorption by the soil, which saturates roads and increases flooding.
As of 6 June 2020, El Salvador reported 27 deaths (18 male and 9 female), 5 missing and 29,968 affected families3. There are 210 authorized shelters that are accommodating 12,154 people, primarily in the departments of San Salvador, La Libertad, Sonsonate, and San Vicente, according to the El Salvador Government report issued on June 2. Physical distancing measures are implemented to prevent outbreaks of COVID19 in the shelters. Shelters are set up and managed by the National Civil Protection System. The geographical selected targets have considered the most affected areas. Other affected areas are not included in this DREF operation as authorities are already responding to the humanitarian needs. The Government of El Salvador, as well as public and private institutions are providing resources to respond to the emergency and safeguard people’s lives. The Salvadorean Red Cross is supporting the Civil Protection System and national emergency response activities. At least 23 places have registered high levels of flooding in different areas of the country, affecting residential areas such as the Colonia Málaga in Barrio Santa Anita and Colonia Santa Lucía in Ilopango in San Salvador, as well as Santa Tecla and Villa Lourdes in the Municipality of Colón, among other places. El Salvador remains affected by COVID-19. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University5, as of 6 June 2020, El Salvador reported 3,015 cases, 53 deaths and 1,305 recoveries. Beyond COVID-19, the threat of vector transmitted diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or Zika remains a concern for the country as the rainy season is starting.
The floods have gradually reduced during the implementation period of the operation and the families hosted at the evacuation centres returned little by little to their houses. There were few changes in terms of humanitarian needs during the implementation of the DREF operation. The most affected families kept requesting support on to fulfil their basic needs. There was a specific need of support on water distribution in some concrete communities that were struggling to get potable water during the first weeks after the strike of Tropical Storm Amanda.