CENTRAL AMERICA: Ida Wreaks Havoc in El Salvador; ERD responds

November 10, 2009

Hurricane Ida hit El Salvador late Saturday, Nov. 7, fed by 145-kilometer-per-hour winds and causing heavy flooding. The country's civil protection authorities reported that 91 people were killed, 60 missing, and hundreds injured.

Following Ida's assault, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has been in contact with its program partners, the Anglican Diocese of El Salvador, Asociacion CREDHO and Asociacion Mangle. ERD says it is standing ready to support the partners with emergency relief to devastated communities.

"We are working with our local partners to collect information, contact affected communities, and assess the current situation," said Matt St. John, ERD's program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Once the assessment is complete, we will formulate a response based on the needs and available resources," St. John said. "In the meantime, the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador is providing pastoral care in several affected communities, including in the area of Bajo Lampa and the department of San Vicente."

Fundación Cristosal, a foundation for the support of the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador, is also responding to the crisis in El Salvador.

El Salvador's central region was hardest hit, with the Chinchontepec volcano causing a mudslide near San Vicente that claimed several victims. According to Civil Defense Chief Jorge Melendez, the number of fatalities could rise as rescue services continue combing the eastern regions. Major roads into the country are blocked, five bridges have collapsed, and thousands of people are in emergency housing.

The Most Rev. Martín Barahona, primate of the Anglican Church of the Region of Central America (IARCA), said, "We are praying for the families and are in communication with other institutions and sister churches at the national, regional and international level to plan our level of action right now and after the emergency."

Barahona considers Ida "the worst natural event of the year to strike El Salvador. It intensifies the social and economic problems with which we live. We pray to God for the life of our families, communities and countries."

To help people affected by Hurricane Ida, donate online to Episcopal Relief & Development's Hurricane Relief Fund here, or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief & Development, Hurricane Relief Fund, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.