Arts, Disasters

Calle 13 en El Salvador for Flood Relief!

Calle 13 is performing in San Salvador on Saturday to benefit those impacted by the  October flooding. Tickets went on sale this week – the price was a donation of rice, beans or other grains that will be distributed to flood victims.

The grammy-award winning group, which is comprised of René Pérez Joglar (aka Residente), his stepbrother Eduardo José Cabra Martínez (aka Visitante), and their sister lleana (aka PG-13), is from San Juan, Puerto Rico but has become well-known throughout Latin America for their social and political commentary.

Yesterday, people of all ages waited five and six hours in line carrying bags of grains for the chance to get tickets to Saturday’s show. Event organizers set up several ticket distribution sites around San Salvador, including Apopa, Mejicanos, Soyapango, in front of the FMLN’s office in San Salvador.

According to one news report, general admission tickets cost 2 pounds of beans, while five pounds of beans and five pounds of rice will buy VIP tickets.

The show will be at the Estadio Mágico González at 2:00 on Saturday, and event organizers expect a sold out crowd of 30,000 people – that’s a lot of rice and beans! The show is being hosted by the Mayor’s office of Soyapango in cooperation with the National Institute of Sports and the National Administration of Aquaducts and Drains (ANDA).

Here’s a recent Calle 13 video:

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Climate Change, Disasters, El Salvador Government

Video Footage of the Rescue from the Lower Lempa

As we have been reporting, the flooding in the communities of Nueva Esperanza, Ciudad Romero, Zamorano, Nueva Amanecer, and other communities in the Lower Lempa have been extreme. Last night we posted some photos from Zamorano and elsewhere in the region. Last night Channel 12 in El Salvador showed footage from Nueva Esperanza and the dramatic evacuations from Sunday night and Monday. The video begins with footage from Mata de Piña, which was about where main road through the region became to dangerous. Later in the video, there is footage from the rescue yesterday in Nueva Esperanza, after the floodwater had begun to recede.

Those readers who have traveled with us to the region on delegations have been to these places, though you may not recognize them. You may also recognize some of the people being rescued and even some of the people doing the rescuing.

As we mentioned yesterday, Michael Terry and Laura Turiano are matching the next $2000 in donations that we receive for flood relief. If you contribute now, your donations will be doubled. Please click on the Donate Now button above and help us respond this crisis. Though the water is receding, the recovery challenges are daunting, and the communities in the Lower Lempa need your help!

Climate Change, Disasters, El Salvador Government, Food Security, Hydro Electric Dams, International Relations, Mauricio Funes

US Embassy Announces Aid for Flood Relief

Today the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador announced an aid package worth $50,000 to support the Salvadoran Ministry of Civil Protection’s efforts to respond to the worst flooding in the country’s modern history. The package will help buy “fuel for emergency vehicles, as well as portable kitchen sets and hygiene kits for people staying in government shelters.”

The Embassy statement also says that they are “distributing equipment that was previously donated to the government of El Salvador by USAID in anticipation of this type of emergency.” The equipment includes plastic sheeting, 2800 hygiene kits, shovels, and other tools.

In a similar announcement, La Prensa Grafica is reporting this evening that the International Development Bank is releasing the first $25 million of a $50 million loan package. President Funes tonight said that the funds will be used for recovering from the disaster. The La Prensa Grafica article also reports that the governments of Spain, Taiwan, Guatemala and the United States have offered assistances, as has the Central American Bank of Economic Integration and the United Nations Development Program, but it is unclear whether any support has actually to reach those in shelters.

President Funes tonight also confirmed that there are 32 confirmed deaths in El Salvador, and that 3 other people are reported as missing, and 32,000 are evacuated to emergency shelters.

Another article in La Prensa Grafica reports that the Legislative Assembly today voted unanimously to declare a national emergency for the next 60 days. In part that waives all duties on aid coming into the country from aid organizations.

While the US Embassy’s contribution is a nice start, the international community seems a little slow to respond. The flooding, at least in the Lower Lempa region of Usulután, has reached epic proportions. There are thousands of people in shelters with no food or water, and many others are still stuck in their communities.

Perhaps the lack of international aid is linked to the lack of coverage by the international media. The AP put out a story yesterday that was carried on the Huffington Post, and the blogs for a couple major news outlets. But a quick scan of some of the major news websites (NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, NPR, Al-Jazeera English) found not one story on the flooding in Central America; forget about a story focusing on El Salvador. Maybe that will change with tomorrow’s news cycle.

This apparent lack of attention makes your contribution and support all the more important. Please help us in two ways:

1) Click on the Donate Now button and make a financial contribution to flood relief – we’ll make sure it gets directly to the community; and

2) inform others about the devastation and ask them to make a contribution.

We’ll be providing another update tomorrow morning.

 

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 (www.votb.org) or blog (www.voiceselsalvador.wordpress.com) 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.