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Home Our Missions International Relief Aid to Hurricane Ida Survivors in El Salvador

Aid to Hurricane Ida Survivors in El Salvador

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As Hurricane Ida swept across the Gulf of Mexico, a low-pressure system out of the Pacific brought torrential rains to El Salvador, leaving behind floods and mudslides. As of November 18, 194 people have been killed, while 80 people are missing, and 15,090 people are left homeless. The capital of El Salvador, San Salvador, and San Vicente province are the hardest-hit regions.

Tzu Chi volunteers in El Salvador immediately mobilized to provide emergency relief work in four cities: La Libertad, Soyapango, San Vicente and Apopa. The volunteers prepared food, clothing and eco-friendly blankets (shipped from Tzu Chi Taiwan headquarters) to be distributed to the survivors and evacuees.

On November 10, the team of volunteers arrived in La Libertad to conduct relief distribution in two schools close to the city center. Ever since the disaster happened, most of the evacuees in the area have been staying in the two schools awaiting relief supplies. Most of the evacuees were children and elderly people, since many of the younger generation have left their hometown for work.

On November 11, the team of volunteers arrived at a shelter in the city of Apopa. Most of the town was buried by the mudslide. Heavy rainfall also caused the riverbank to burst. The mudslide and flood destroyed hundreds of homes. A 26-year-old resident and his wife and one-year-old child were lucky to escape from the devastating disaster. He said, “At two o’clock in the morning, it was raining really hard. Suddenly, the grounded started to shake, and I heard a loud banging sound. Next, I found myself lying amidst rubble in what used to be my home.” Another resident said, “It was terrible. Rocks came rushing down the mountain and fell on my roof. They split my home into two. I heard people around me screaming…” After the mudslide occurred, military personnel and local residents used shovels and their own hands to dig and find the missing people.Two elderly were brought into the shelter, and Tzu Chi volunteers immediately put clothes on them and brought them hot soup and blankets. The elderly couple had originally taken shelter at a cave on higher ground when they saw the river's water level rising. The military personnel in the area found them and brought them to the shelter.

On November 12, Tzu Chi volunteers as well as some residents of the Great Love Villages (Tzu Chi built two Great Love Villages with 1,175 homes in Sacacoyo and Chanmico, El Salvador for survivors of the 2001 earthquake) traveled to the city of Soyapango to provide relief distribution. The roads were damaged, so it took some time to reach the destination.

Tzu Chi volunteers distributed supplies in three villages in the city. Evacuees from the three villages had no place to stay, so they found some plastic cloth and bamboo or wooden pieces as well as ropes from the rubble in order to build a temporary “home.” The only household items they had were pieces of clothing and pots and pans and utensils found in the rubble.

A volunteer from the Great Love Village said, “When I saw these suffering people, it reminded me of the earthquake in 2001. I was able to find pieces of memory from my past in the rubble after the earthquake hit. Even though I was lucky to survive, I did not know where to go. Luckily, Tzu Chi Foundation came to assist us and found me a home and a job. Now that I can stand on my own feet again, I am here to help. I am very grateful to Tzu Chi.”

Relief aid provided to the survivors and evacuees of Hurricane Ida in El Salvador
Date Location # of Households # of People Supplies
11/10 La Libertad 150 510 400 eco-friendly blankets, 32 boxes of clothes, 200kg of rice, 200kg of red bean, 450 packets of coffee, 200kg of corn flour, 150 bottles of oil, 200kg of sugar
11/10 San Vicente 162 620 400 eco-friendly blankets, 1,000 packets of water, 400kg of rice, 200 bottles of oil, 400kg of red bean, 400kg of corn flour, 1,500 pieces of clothes (supplies were brought to the area by helicopter)
11/11 Apopa 35 145 80 eco-friendly blankets, 2 boxes of clothes
11/12 Soyapango 303 1479 800 eco-friendly blankets, 50 boxes of clothes

Translated by Grace Chen

 

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