Hurricane relief 2009: Hurricane Ida hits El Salvador

Report
from Oxfam
Published on 16 Nov 2009 View Original
Hurricanes can have the greatest impact on people's lives from June until November. Oxfam Canada works with partner organizations to both ensure people are prepared and receive the care they need after a hurricane has made landfall.

Hurricane Ida hits El Salvador

The Situation

On the weekend of November 7-8, the central region of El Salvador was severely affected by torrential rainfall. As Hurricane Ida swept through the neighbouring countries of Nicaragua and Honduras, it created a low pressure front that brought 355mm of rain in four hours, causing deadly flooding and landslides in seven Salvadorian provinces.

The government declared a state of public calamity on Monday and formally appealed for emergency international aid to cope with the ongoing crisis.

According to the latest figures provided by the Salvadorian government and endorsed by the United Nations, 194 people were killed, 80 remain missing, and more than 15,000 had to abandon their homes and move into schools and shelters. This toll is expected to rise as road traffic and communications are restored over the next few days.

Hundreds of homes have been affected or destroyed, and several municipalities remain inaccessible as roads and bridges have been washed away. Many areas of the country are without running water or electricity. Schools, sewage systems and health care centres have also sustained varying degrees of damage, and there are early reports of food and medicine shortages.

The rainfall has also destroyed 40 per cent of El Salvador's bean crop, which is both a major source of income and a staple of the Salvadorian diet. This raises worrisome short-term perspectives for the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers and agricultural workers, and may compromise the country's food security.

The hardest-hit areas are the town of San Martín, east of San Salvador, and the border between the provinces of San Vicente and La Paz, where massive landslides from the San Vicente volcano have severely damaged a number of settlements. The municipality of Verapaz, which was all but wiped out by the 2001 earthquakes, saw an avalanche of large boulders and uprooted trees tear through its main street, levelling buildings and leaving dozens missing.

Oxfam is There

Oxfam and its local partners are providing essential shelter materials in some of the most affected provinces, deploying water and sanitation materials and activating emergency programs in place in anticipation of possible natural disasters. Oxfam International is also part of a team of organizations that interacts with the Salvadorian government and local NGOs to provide a joint response to humanitarian emergencies.

ORMUSA, a long-time Oxfam Canada partner, has been donating office space for temporary shelter, and will continue to track the demand for basic necessities (medicine, clean water, food, etc.) in the areas in which it operates.