El Salvador

Flood-hit families in El Salvador receive aid from ShelterBox

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ShelterBox Response Team members who have just returned from flood-hit El Salvador have described the gratitude they encountered delivering emergency shelter to people who had lost their homes and loved ones.

Andrew Biss and Ben Spurway helped set up ShelterBox camps in San Vicente, Verapaz, Guadalupe and Costa del Sol after torrential rains and mudslides washed away homes, took out bridges and destroyed a large part of the country's roads.

The volunteers were the second team on deployment in El Salvador and were tasked with completing the distribution of 324 ShelterBoxes and setting up camps for families in greatest need.

Andrew said: 'The clean-up operation was still going on. 'You could see the mud line half-way up the door on houses. Twelve inches of water had come down in just four hours which brought down sides of mountains and big boulders. It just took homes away with it. The landscape in many areas has permanently changed. I can't imagine what it must have been like at the time, such destruction so quickly.

'Sometimes there is a tension in the air when people begin moving into tents because it feels alien, but everybody seemed very appreciative and children were playing in the site on the first day we had tents up.'

Ben, who is ShelterBox's International Training Academy Manager, said: 'The randomness of destruction meant some communities were completely destroyed whereas other homes next to them were not touched. It was hard to imagine the forces at power that had caused such devastation. People were still clearing mud out of their houses. You couldn't help but be humbled by people's resilience.'

Many people receiving ShelterBox tents had lost loved ones in the disaster which was linked indirectly to Hurricane Ida.

Andrew said: 'I spoke to a woman who had lost her complete family and home. She had just moved into one of our tents and thought she would be there for four or five months. Sometimes even with everything we do, it doesn't seem enough.

'Another man who had lost his wife and two daughters had his five-year-old daughter with him in the tent. Initially after a disaster people just have to carry on and their adrenaline kicks in. But then they are put in a tent and look around them and that is all that they have left.'

Andrew paid tribute to the El Salvadorian army, Rotary (El Salvador) and a women's charity who helped in the aid operation setting up camps, supplying vehicles and manpower.

For more information or to receive high resolution images please contact Angelina Lambourn on 01326 569782 or angelinal@shelterbox.org