Monday, May 31, 2010

Tropical Storm Agatha Hits El Salvador

Dear SHARE community,

As Tropical Storm Agatha moved over Salvadoran territory beginning last Thursday, El Salvador braced itself for yet another disaster. Heavy rainfall for days straight led to flooding and landslides throughout the country, and after elevating alert levels throughout the weekend, a state of emergency was declared. In his Sunday afternoon address, Funes asked citizens to cooperate with authorities and heed calls for evacuation, promising security for the homes and belongings families would leave behind and food and shelter at their destination. He made a call to solidarity organizations, political parties and governmental institutions to respond and unite to this most recent disaster.

As the rains diminish and we receieve more and more information about the aftermath from sister communities and counterparts, including organizations that SHARE was able to support after Hurricane Ida in November, we write with our own call: please help us respond to this most recent emergency.

Preliminary data from the Civil Protection Department informs that 10,335 people are currently in temporary shelter in 198 shelters throughout the country. Flooding of the Río Lempa caused evacuations in San Pablo Tacachico and El Paisnal along with dozens of communities in the Bajo Lempa, including the municipality of Tecoluca, along with dozens of communities in La Libertad, Cuscatlan, La Paz, Usulutan and San Vicente.

It appears that warning systems and coordination between community response teams and government institutions greatly reduced loss of life in this most recent storm. Many homes and communities have been destroyed or damaged, school on the national level has been suspended and many highways have been damaged from land and mudslides. Additionally, planting season already began, meaning that much of this year's crop may be lost from flooding, landslides or saturation of water.

In a press conference today, director of Civil Protection Meléndez declared that the situation is too generalized to have complete data, and while an evaluation of all damages on the national level has not been compelted, the country will remain red alert. The Enviornmental Minister, Herman Rosa Chavéz, for his part, informed that the levels of rain during Agatha were above 483mm in only 24 hours, surpassing those during Hurricane Mitch, at 375mm (source: Diaro CoLatino).

While government institutions ask people to remain on alert even when the rains diminish, we at SHARE have another request: as you did so generously in November after Hurricane Ida, please give to help the Salvadoran people respond and rebuild after this most recent disaster. Mail a check with AGATHA in the subjet line to the SHARE Foundation, 415 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20017, or contact us at for more information.

In solidarity,
The SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today

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