Its not the rain, but the type of rain causing havoc in Central America
SAN SALVADOR/GENEVA, 26 October 2011 (LWI) – It rained for almost a week.
But that’s not the real problem, says Carmen Osorio.
“”When I was a child it rained for weeks, but it never caused any damage,” she explains.
Osorio is the coordinator of health in Ayutuxtepeque, one of the affected suburbs of San Salvador following a deluge that news agencies said had led to more than 100 deaths.
The soil is saturated and there is no place for the water to go. People have been fleeing.
A tropical depression known as 12-E formed on 11 October and parked over the region. It was followed by more intense rain and flooding, harmfully affecting people in six Central America countries.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that in Costa Rica 1,000 people were hit badly by the floods while in El Salvador more than 150,000 were affected; in Honduras, 38,000; in Guatemala, 154,000; in Nicaragua, 134,000 and in Mexico 92,000 people were affected.
Bishop Medardo Gomez from the Salvadoran Lutheran Church (SLC), the regional coordinator for the ACT Forum in Central America, said, “I admire the commitment shown by our pastors, who work under constraints and risks, putting themselves in danger to save others, their people and the people from our communities.”
The SLC is supporting refugees in a shelter located in Cara Sucia area.
“The Lutheran World Federation’s [LWF] Department for World Service office in Central America is helping and accompanying us. Recently we worked together in the Disaster Prevention Center located in Cara Sucia, Ahuachapán. It was a wonderful experience,” said Gomez.
Bishop Victoria Cortez from the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope, however, expressed sadness at the new reports rain causing havoc in people’s lives.
“We have received reports from our communities confirming damages caused by the floods. Our pastors are at the front of providing support to refugees in Aquespalapa and in El Bonete,” said Cortez.
Authorities in El Salvador say about 15,000 people are in shelters and news agencies reported more than 105 are dead in the six countries.
A Salvadorian government weather expert said that almost 2200 millimeters fell in the deluge. In rainy Scandinavia the yearly rainfall figures range between 1000 and 1200 millimeters.
This part of Central America is considered by the United Nations to be one of the most vulnerable regions of the world for natural disasters, climate change, environmental degradation and deforestation.
It is exacerbated by being one of the most world’s most unequal societies, according to international agencies.
Maize and bean crops were scheduled to be harvested. But now they are all immersed in water.
The LWF, an ACT Alliance member, has started an emergency response in El Salvador following a needs assessment of the most vulnerable areas as there has been little or no State intervention.
The LWF has distributed hygiene kits and food in El Salvadorian metropolitan areas and the area along the Rio Lempa, reaching almost 1000 families. (522 words)
(Thomas Eklund contributed to this story from San Salvador and Rev. Dr Patricia Cuyatti from Geneva)