El Salvador

Stronger and safer in El Salvador

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What happened in El Salvador?

Heavy rains caused by Hurricane Ida at the start of November 09 resulted in severe flooding and landslides. More than 180 people died, thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed and a large proportion of crops were lost.

In Santa Cruz Michapa and El Carmen, where JDS work, 115 families' homes have been destroyed or damaged, with 70 per cent of crops destroyed in Santa Cruz Michapa and 40 per cent in El Carmen.

What is the JDS doing in response to the floods?

With CAFOD's help, we are providing emergency provisions including food and hygiene kits containing staple items like rice, beans, cooking oil, soap and toothpaste to 80 families.

Two people in the community of El Centro in Michapa sadly lost their lives in a mudslide. But the work that JDS has been doing with CAFOD's help over the last eight years prevented more people from dying.

What work have you been doing up to now to try to protect communities from extreme weather?

After the earthquakes in 2001, CAFOD helped us to build 440 strong, safe houses for people who had lost their homes, including some for families in Michapa and El Carmen. They also helped us to build another 220 hurricane-resistant homes after Hurricane Stan in 2005.

We have been working with communities to pinpoint the areas most at risk from floods and landslides and have worked with local people to build strong walls to protect their roads and houses.

How do ordinary people get involved in preparing for future disasters?

We have trained people in rescue and first aid and carried out emergency drills for them to practice how they would respond in a real emergency.

The training has been invaluable in enabling them to respond effectively and quickly. The emergency groups

The emergency groups that we set up evacuated families that were most at risk as soon as the weather got bad.

that we set up evacuated families that were most at risk as soon as the weather got bad.

When the worst was over, they searched for missing people. In Rosales three people who had been buried by landslides were rescued, and everyone helped to clear the debris.

Is the government helping with this disaster?

We have given people training so they know how to ask for help from the local government. Some people have already got plastic sheeting and the government have sent machines to help to clear the debris from the roads.

What are your future plans?

We will be helping people in Santa Cruz Michapa and El Carmen to rebuild their lives in the next few months so that they can continue to make a living.

We will be showing farmers how to repair the damage done to their land and we plan to construct about 40 houses in the area for families left homeless by the disaster.

We will also continue to prepare people for future disasters so they will be in an even better position to protect themselves next time heavy rains and hurricanes come their way.