Monday, September 27, 2010

Hurricane Matthew Causes Heavy Rains; El Salvador Continues on Orange Alert

El Salvador continues on Yellow Alert, with the Coastal and Central Mountain zones on Orange Alert, due to heavy rains provoked by Hurricane Matthew. Rains began on Friday as Hurricane Matthew developed off the Atlantic Nicaraguan Coast and continued heavily throughout the weekend, causing torrential downpours in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. As Matthew becomes a Tropical Depression along the Southern Mexican Coast, the National Service of Territorial Studies (SNET) projects that heavy rains will continue through Tuesday and encourages Civil Protection committees to remain on alert.

This storm comes after five months of continuous heavy rains. Soil is already saturated and flooding, mudslides, and evacuations have been common in this rainy season. Throughout the country, farmers have lost their season's crops and, in areas like the Lower Lempa River basin, communities have decided to wait until the end of the rainy season to plant. Because of heavy rains in Honduras and Guatemala, which feed into the Lempa River and its tributaries, flood risk remains high for communities along all major rivers.

According to Civil Protection, there have been 47 landslides over the weekend, causing damages to highways and bridges; one death has been reported in El Salvador; and some 900 people are currently in shelters.  According to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the municipality of Tecoluca, where SHARE counterpart CRIPDES San Vicente is located, is at high risk for flooding, and various municipalities in Chalatenango are at moderate risk, along with some thirty other zones of the country. As continued rains fall, risk for flooding and landslides increase.

Some 90% of El Salvador is vulnerable to natural disasters. Accumulated rainfall has reached over 2,0000 ml before the month of September draws to a close, the equivalent of average yearly rainfall. Thanks to La Niña, October and November are predicted to bring above-average rainfall levels, while October is generally the month with highest rainfall levels.

Visit the following websites for official updates on the situation (spanish-language only):

Ministry of Enviornement and Natural Resources:
National Service of Territorial Studies:
General Direction of Civil Protection:

photos thanks to the Prensa Grafica

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