Voices staff attended a meeting in the Lower Lempa this afternoon to get an update on the flooding in the region.
Community leaders are reporting that the September 15th Dam just up the Lempa River was releasing water at 5500 cubic meters/second last night between 9 pm and 4 am this morning. This report has not been verified by government officials in charge of the Dam, who report that they have been releasing water at 4000 cm/s. The flow has remained around 4500 cm/s throughout the day. Regardless of the whether the flow last night was 5500 or 4500 cm/s, the results have been fairly devastating. The Lempa River is currently flowing over the levee in the northern top of the Namcuchaname Forest and the levee in the community of El Marillo. The levee breech has sent a large current of water through the community and completely flooded the main road cutting off access to the communities downstream. As we reported earlier, the Lempa River has also breeched the levee in the Lotes and Babilonia communities.
As of this afternoon, the focus of the evacuations is on the Lotes and Babilonia communities, which have been flooded since yesterday. However, the Civil Protection Agency and other government officials have called on ALL communities in the Lower Lempa, from San Marcos on down, to evacuate. Their plan is to move all residents to a shelter in San Marcos. When that is full they will take people to Tierra Blanca and then on to Jiquilisco. Civil Protection has set up a command post in Ciudad Romero where they are coordinating evacuation and relief efforts. According to our field staff, many government and international agencies are present, including the police, military, Red Cross, Comandos de Salvamento, the mayor’s office, and many, many others. The good news is that they are coordinating better than in past emergencies.
As of this afternoon, most Community Boards are holding off on the evacuations to see if the flooding becomes more severe. In past floods, when the river breeches the levees upstream, the water is directed across land to the Jiquilisco Bay, sparing communities such as La Canoa and Amando Lopez. The community boards stressed that having to evacuate is very traumatic for a family, and they want to make sure that it is completely necessary before mobilizing their neighbors.
So far, the Amando Lopes board has helped evacuate 20 pregnant women, small children and some older men, and taken them to the community shelter. The community board is still working to acquire the beds, water, and food needed to keep the evacuees comfortable.
This is by all measures a devastating flood and appears to be the worst in several years. We are still trying to reach our goal of raising $3000 and need your help in doing so. The government is providing many services to the evacuees, but there are still many immediate needs that have not been met.