Mennonite Central Committee has committed an initial $20,000 to relief efforts in El Salvador, where massive flooding and landslides left more than 140 people dead as of Wednesday, Nov. 11.
According to news reports, on Sunday, Nov. 8 a storm dumped almost as much rain on central El Salvador as Hurricane Mitch did over four days in 1998.El Salvador was already in its rainy season. The storm was not related to Hurricane Ida, which was building in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to news reports.
More than 2,000 houses and 18 bridges were damaged or destroyed, according to ACT (Action by Churches Together) International. In total, 118 temporary shelters have been set up where 13,680 people have taken refuge.
Since Monday, MCC’s partner organizations have distributed food, medicine, health care and other material aid, such as canned meat and health kits from MCC, wrote Antony Sanchez and Irma Solano, MCC representatives for Guatemala and El Salvador, in an e-mail.
MCC partners in the areas of disaster are ANADES (New Dawn Association from El Salvador) in San Vicente; IBDC (Baptist Disciples of Christ Church) in San Martin; and Fundahmer (Brother Mercedes Foundation) in La Libertad. There are no Mennonite churches in the affected area.
Agricultural production is largely affected, and as much as 30 percent of some crops may be lost. Therefore, food assistance and food security for the communities will be the major challenges for MCC’s partner agencies, Sanchez and Solano wrote. Most food producers are small farmers, and a new harvest will not be ready until Aug.10.
Sanchez and Solano are meeting with MCC partners in El Salvador from Nov. 11 to 13. Together they will assess the situation in San Martin and San Vicente and propose a longer term disaster response plan.
Three MCC workers — Toby Roberts and Chris and Rebecca Strong — in El Salvador are safe. Roberts is assigned to partner ANADES and the Strongs work with the Mennonite Church of El Salvador.