On Thursday, October 21, President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador visited with local responders, municipal government officials and community organizations in the Lower Lempa region of coastal El Salvador. This was the first visit to the field made by the President since the heavy rains of Tropical Depression 12E had begun to dissipate, and historic levels of flooding began to subside.
Accompanied by members of his cabinet and the national press, Funes met with local responders at the office of EcoViva’s partner organization, the Mangrove Association, and promised that the government would help rebuild the agriculture and cattle sectors of that region’s rural economy. He also highlighted the need for risk mitigation policies that take into account the high levels of vulnerability in the Lower Lempa, a coastal regional with a history of severe flooding exacerbated by upstream dam activity. He identified crop and cattle loss to be at 70% in the region.
Over the course of nine days, rains from Tropical Depression 12E pounded much of the Central American isthmus, leaving 123 dead and many more wounded throughout the region. In El Salvador, 34 people have been reported either dead or missing, and over 57,000 have been displaced to shelters throughout the country.
El Salvador has been hard hit by rains over the last ten days. Total rainwater accumulation in El Salvador has been measured at 1.5 meters during Tropical Depression 12E, or over 4 feet. This is nearly double the rains observed during Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Fortunately, the death toll is much smaller (105 as of today, for the whole region) then the thousands killed during Mitch.
Nevertheless, in El Salvador, 150,000 have been affected, at least 80 communities flooded, over 22,000 wells contaminated, and countless homes destroyed. As of this afternoon, over 57,000 people are in shelters. It is the infrastructure and food crops that have been hit the hardest — at least 12 bridges have been damaged or washed away, 296 schools damaged, and main roadways washed out.
After the Salvadoran government declared a state of emergency, the US Embassy released $50,000 in emergency aid and 2800 sanitation kits and supplies for local shelters. According to the USAID (US Agency for International Development), the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is waiting for concrete asks from the Salvadoran government.