Advocacy, Disasters

Crisis in El Salvador! Please Help Now

The situation here in El Salvador has become truly critical in the past 24 hours.  The number of evacuated persons has risen to at least 13,878 and Civil Protection continues to call for more.  In the past 12 hours over 200 ml (approximately 8 inches) of rain fell nation wide, and the death toll has risen to at least 27 people.  Many roads are now impassable due to flooded rivers and creeks, as well as land slides.  Civil Protection has registered 590 land slides, 472 damaged or destroyed homes, and 998 homes in grave risk.

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We cannot stress enough the devastation that has occurred over the past 72 hours.  The entire country is on red alert, frantically trying to get basic necessities to shelters and communities around the country.

In the Lower Lempa the CEL is currently releasing 8000 cubic meters of water per second, levels not seen since Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  The levees are already seriously compromised and the Mayor  of Jiquilisco is calling for a complete evacuation of the Lower Lempa, as ordered by Civil Protection.  The Salvadoran Navy and Armed Forces has dispached boats and vehicles to help facilitate evacuations.

We at Voices are working with the Civil Protection Central Command out of Ciudad Romero. They have asked us, for right now, to provide support to the shelters in Amando Lopez and Comunidad Octavio Ortiz, which we are doing. This afternoon, Civil Protection is evacuating the Amando Lopez Shelter, which is at capacity. As the Rio Lempa continues to rise through the afternoon and into the evening, we expect that the numerous families that have so far not evacuated to make their way to the Amando Lopez shelter, and they will need our support. We will also continue assisting the evacuees as they move to the shelter in San Marcos. Right now we are focused on the basics: food, clothing, and shelter.

Again, if you have not donated for this emergency, we urge you to do so.  This weather is projected to last into the coming week, and any and all aid is urgent and necessary.  Also we have noticed that there is a lack of coverage in the international press – please help spread the word!

We are making a wire transfer to the communities tomorrow morning, so please help tonight by clicking on the Donate Now button to the right of this page. No amount is too small or big.

And please share this bolg post with your friends and Family on Facebook

Advocacy, Disasters

Saturday Night

Voices staff is headed back down to the Lower Lempa tonight, where a total of some 2,570 + personas are evacuated, and many more unsure of how they’ll get through the storm.  Many families are also camped out along the road, with their homes flooded out, but unwilling to go to a shelter.

We are meeting up with a delivery of mattresses from our friends ADES, in Cabañas.  The mattresses will be delivered to the Amando López shelter, where 460 people are currently sharing 30 mattresses.

The Prensa Grafica reports 8,000 people evacuated at the national level, but since the numbers have been increasing rapidly this afternoon, we imagine that it is much higher.


Advocacy, Disasters

Support Psycho-Social work in Shelters

Our friends at the Ceiba Collective, who normally work on Lake Ilopongo with some of the country’s most vulnerable communities, are trying to get out and provide psychological support in shelters around the country.  Read below about their work and click through to their webpage to support them during this crisis:

Who We Are

We are two youth collectives, Anmu-tsipical and CEIBA, which work in social community development with an emphasis in socio-environmental themes. We emphasize community organization, especially in the municipalities of Santiago Texacuangos and Santo Tomas.  

What We Do

Our two collectives have united to carry out several projects over time, such as one that offered psycho-social support for 300 children who survived Hurricane Ida and who reside in the communities of Joya Grande, San Martin, and Santo Tomas. This project lasted 6 months. We also belong to and work through the following Salvadoran national youth networks: Juxvida, Youth in Favor of Life (an environmental youth network), and CIPJES (the Inter-Sector Coordination in Favor of Youth in El Salvador.) These networks unite to support each other when we are in need of volunteers, to carry out large events, and in times of crisis. Finally, our two collectives together have together trained two Children’s Emergency Committees in Santiago Texacuangos.

The objective of carrying out this type of attention is to support children in expressing their emotions after having lived through trauma. We help them to understand what is happening and how it is related to their feelings, so they can understand it and feel themselves empowered to be part of the solution to the problem. Our methodology consists in using different interactive techniques, like painting and drawing, puppets and games, and movement therapies like yoga, which help the children to fully comprehend the crisis they’re living.

The Resources We Offer

We have a team of 3 to 6 trained psychologists along with some materials like paper, crayons, puppets, movies and games.

What We Need

In order to provide immediate attention we need either vehicles to provide transport, or gasoline to fill up our SUV and to provide food for the psychologists during the work days.

Contact Us:


Telephone: 011-503-7403-2702– Beth or 011-503-7182-4827 Jonathan


Facebook: Ceiba El Salvador

Website: and español

Anmutsipical Collective:

Telephoen: 011-503-7904-5272 Juancho


Climate Change, Disasters, El Salvador Government, Food Security

Flood Update – Saturday, October 15th

Rain continues to fall in El Salvador and our partners in the Lower Lempa region of Jiquilisco, Usulután are flooded out. They face a double threat: 1) massive rainfalls that have no where drain, and 2) the Lempa River which has busted through and is flowing over the levees.

Here is a short slideshow of photos taken Thursday night and Friday in the Lempa.

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Here are the latest numbers from the community evacuation shelters:

Ciudad Romero – 82 people
Zanmorano (mostly evacuees from Nueva Esperanza) – 150 people
El Marillo – 78 people
Amando Lopez – 150 people
Jiquilisco – 99 people
Las Mesitas – 114 people
Isla de Mendez – 47 people
Comunidad Octavio Ortiz – 8 families

The September 15th Dam, which is just upriver from the Lower Lempa, is currently releasing water at a rate of 3000 cm/sec, which is lower than the 5500 cm/sec earlier in the week, but still high. Civil Protection officials are warning that the release rate may go back up above 5000 later today because of the large amounts of rain that continues to fall throughout El Salvador and Guatemala and drains to the Lempa River.

There are four large holes in the levees that protect the communities, so even with the lower flow rates from the dam, water continues to pour inland.

The good news is that all of the work over the past two years to better coordinate rescue efforts has paid off and all of the different government agencies and international organizations are working closer together to serve the needs of those affected.

But the needs are great and Central Command has asked that we help take care of the needs at community shelters such as the one Amando Lopez. The other day Voices set out to raise $3000 to help the shelters and so far we raised only $1300, $800 of which we just used to purchase small mattresses for the Amando Lopez shelter where people have been sleeping on the floor. We are also buying general supplies for the shelters.

The $1300 we’ve raised so far is providing great benefit, but the needs are tremendous at this point, and we ask that if you haven’t already given, please go to our website ( or blog ( and click on the Donate Now button. Even easier – here is the URL for our Network for Good page – cut and past that into your browser… Its easy and just takes a second.

We ask one other thing – please send this update to your friends and family and ask them to also make a donation – no contribution is too small.

Your donation is not going to a large Institution with high overhead – it going directly to the communities where the needs are.


Flood Update – Friday 10-14

Our staff in the Lower Lempa this morning reports that there are no real changes since yesterday’s update. The focus continues to be evacuating the Lotes and Babilonia communities.

Yesterday afternoon our staff went to inspect sections of the levees and report that huge sections have been washed away. One reason that Lotes and Bablonia have been so devastated is that there is a 25-meter (82 feet) hole in the levee and part of the Lempa River is being diverted inland. The River is going down some so the volume of water is not as great as it was yesterday, but flooding remains serious.

La Prensa Grafica is reporting this morning that 7 people throughout El Salvador have been killed in landslides and flooding, while 8000 have been evacuated to emergency shelters. The municipality of San Francisco Menéndez, Auachapan, where 6000 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters, is among the hardest hit communities. Yesterday, the Legislative Assembly passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency and public disaster in five of El Salvador’s fourteen provinces: Ahuachapán, Sonsonate, La Libertad, La Paz, and Usulután. This releases government emergency funds to aid in the rescue and recovery. La Prensa Grafica is also reporting that El Salvador’s Ministry of Civil Protection has released $837,559 for the relief effort.

The weather forecast for the weekend is for more rain, which means the threat of flooding and landslides will remain high.

Thanks to all who have contributed in the past couple of days to flood relief!

We have not reached our goal of $3000 and ask those who have not contributed to click on the Donate Now button at the top-right of this page. Many people remain in shelters and need immediate assistance. We are targeting our efforts to communities such as Amando Lopez, where 93 people are in a shelter with very few resources. Thank you!


Flood Update for Lower Lempa of El Salvador

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.


Flood Update – Help Now!

Our local sources in the Lower Lempa are reporting this morning that the communities of Los Lotes and Babilonia are experiencing extreme flooding and rescue teams have been trying to evacuate residents. While some have made it to shelters others remain trapped. The only road into the area is on the levee, which has holes and is too instable to traverse at this point.  A report in the La Prensa Grafica says that members of the Red Cross and Comandos de Salvamento are going to try and evacuate those stranded by boat or helicopter. La Prensa Grafica is reporting that a total of 43 families mainly in La Canoa and El Angel have been evacuated, totaling 124 people.

Over 4000 people have been evacuated from their homes in San Salvador, La Paz, San Vicente, Sonsonate, and Usulután, and the risk of more flooding and landslides remains high.

One of the main concerns remains the Lempa River. According to the SNET, at 6 am this morning the river was still rising in San Marcos Lempa. The latest report was that the September 15 Dam was releasing 5000 cm/sec, beyond what the levees that protect the Lower Lempa can withstand.

Our goal is to Raise $3000 by the close of business today to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding. Please help us by clicking on the donate now button to the right of this post.

We’ll provide more information throughout the day. We are also posting photos and updates on Facebook.

Advocacy, Disasters

Flooding in the Lower Lempa of Jiquilisco, Usulután – Help Now

Voices just received an update from our partners United Communities, and news is that communities are beginning to flood. As we reported early in the day, a tropical depression is stalled just off the coast of Guatemala, causing flooding and mudslides in Auchuapan and communities along the coast, including those in the Lower Lempa region of San Vicente and Jiquilisco, Usulután.

According to our partners, the problem so far is the constant rainfall. The ground is saturated and the drainage ditches are full. As a result, communities are starting to flood. They include: Nueva Esperanza, El Zamorano, El Marillo I, Marillo II, La Casona, Montemar, Los Conventos, El Ángel, La Plancha, San Martín, Las Arañas y El Presidio. So far the only evacuations have been in El Ángel, where 37 families are in a shelter.

The Lempa River may soon become a problem and contribute to the flooding. At 1:00 this afternoon the September 15th dam began discharging water at a rate of 2300 cubic meters per second, just under the 2500 cm/sec the regions levee system can stand. At 4:00 pm the dam began releasing at 3500 cm/sec, and they increased it 5:00 pm 4000 cm/sec.

At the time of the last update, water from the dam had not reached the Lower Lempa, but our partners are expecting that the amount of water being released will cause severe flooding in Los Lotes and La Babilonia, communities that are the first to suffer when the river floods. If the release from the dam were to increase to 5500 cm/sec they speculate that the already weakened levees would fail and have deadly results in many other communities.

Beyond the immediate impacts that flooding will have, United Communities fears that severe flooding will devastate the economies of San Juan del Gozo, Las Mesitas, La Chacastera, and others that depend on traditional farming in the mangroves for their livelihoods.

At the moment the needs are basic – caring for the needs of those displaced and staying in shelters. The forecast is for the rain to stick around so we expect the needs to become much worse in the immediate future.

Please help us raise $3000 by this time tomorrow so that we may provide immediate assistance to those in need.

In 2009 readers of this blog helped us raise $9000 in support of communities in La Paz who were suffered when their communities were flooded. Please help us today by clicking on the Donate Now button in the top right-hand corner of this page. We will make a wire transfer at the close of business tomorrow.

Thank you

Disasters, Hydro Electric Dams, News Highlights

Flood Alert in El Salvador!

This week El Salvador has been feeling the growing effects of two low-pressure systems.  By this afternoon Tropical Depression 12 E, which sits off the coast of Guatemala on the Pacific Ocean, is expected to be upgraded to a Tropical Storm.  So far, the heaviest rainfall has been registered in the Western provinces of the country, as well as the coastal region.

Dr. Jeff Masters, from Weather Underground, describes further possibilities for tropical depressions next week.  In his blog he says:

“Many of the computer models continue to predict that a strong tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical depression could form in the Western Caribbean or extreme southern Gulf of Mexico early next week. Some of the spin and moisture for this storm could potentially come from Tropical Depression 12-E, which formed in the Eastern Pacific this morning, just offshore of the Mexico/Guatemala border. TD 12-E is expected to move inland over Southeast Mexico and Guatemala over the next few days, bringing very heavy rains of 5 – 10 inches capable of causing life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.”

Civil Protection in El Salvador has declared the Orange level alert for the coast and volcanic corridor.  There have been reported mudslides and flashfloods as well, with one reported death in a mudslide in Ayutuxtepeque, near Mejícanos.  A Mayor of one of the most affected municipalities in Ahuachpan was rescued after being swept away in his pick up truck while trying to alert locals of evacuation efforts.  About 240 people are in shelters in La Paz, and another 24 families in San Vicente.

In the Lower Lempa, Jiquilisco many communities are experiencing minor flooding due to the accumulated rainfall.  These include Amando López, El Marillo I and II, Monte Mar, Octavio Ortiz, Los Lotes, Babylonia, Nueva Esperanza, Ciudad Romero, among others.  Currently, the CEL reports discharges of 1,200 cubic meters per second, and according the Community Association ACUDESBAL, the Lempa river basin can absorb up to 2,500 cubic meters per second.  This is less than prior years due to the deterioration of the already patchy levee and drainage systems.  No one has evacuated yet, but the Early Warning System is fully activated.

Follow developments on our FaceBook page or on Twitter @VoicesElSal



Vocies on the Border is a non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting just and sustainable development in El Salvador. Please support our work today by clicking on the Donate Now button!

News Highlights, violence

Archbishop Romero’s Killer Finally Identified

Marino Samayoa Acosta

More than 30 years after the March 24, 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, new information has emerged about the identity of the shooter.  Diario Co Latino, through sources close to  d’ Aubisson’s circle, named National Guard Deputy Sargeant Marino Samayoa Acosta as the assassin. It was the son of former president Colonel Arturo Armando Molina, Mario Molina, who suggested the Sargeant for the job.  The shooter had previously been a member of President Molina’s security team.

Until now, the actual identity of the shooter was the only piece missing to the puzzle.  The Truth Commission had managed to put together the rest of the information, such as the intellectual authors of the crime, however the individual who actually shot the Archbishop remained a mystery.  Major Roberto d’Aubuisson, founder of the ARENA political party as well as El Salvador’s death squads, has long been acknowledged as giving the order for the assassination.  Captains Eduardo Ávila and Álvaro Rafael Saravia did the actual mobilizing for the plan.  Many of the details had been found in Saravia’s “Plan Piña,” which described the weapon, actors and logistics for the murder.  Those familiar with the case had always suspected the doctor Héctor Antonio Regalado as the shooter, but the Truth Commission said there was not enough persuasive evidence to support that theory.

Many Salvadorans continue to mourn the death of Monsignor Romero, and the current Auxiliary Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, announced that the release of the new information will be an important element for a thorough investigation for those interested in the truth and that ‘at best, this publication allows us to come to the end of the investigation’.