Climate Change, Disasters, Hydro Electric Dams

Agatha’s Impact

Tropical Storm Agatha swept north of El Salvador over the past 72 hours, causing continual and heavy rain fall over the entire territory. The Ministry of Civil Protection reports 9 deaths and 1,119 people displaced from their homes.

The Environmental Minister, Herman Rosa Chávez reported 483 mm of rainfall over 24 hours – 108 mm more than Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  He added that the rains will continue to linger, mainly in the central and eastern parts of the country.

With the force of the storm now past, our attention turns to the communities that will absorb the brunt of the watershed.  Yesterday, the 15 de Septiembre hydroelectric dam went from releasing 3000 cubic meters per second to 6000.  Within hours the Lempa River exceeded it’s limits and has now flooded the communities La Babilonia, Los Lotes, El Angel, El Marillo, El Marillo II, Las Tiranas, and others.  For these communities, the impact of Agatha is just beginning.

Few families have fully evacuated.  For example, those in Los Lotes y La Babilonia have only sent young children and the elderly to the shelters in Ciudad Romero and El Angel.  The majority of families are waiting to see what happens from the street.  (The road is a high ground – their homes are flooded).  Civil protection committees are monitoring the level of the river and will take the necessary measures as it continues to rise.

Image of Lempa Watershed