Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, COVID 19, Disasters, Environment, Food Security, Fundraising Campaign, News Highlights, Water/Agua

Moving Forward from the Devastation of Tropical Storms Amanda and Cristóbal

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103097652_3051445654944141_4313488328019419403_oIn the midst of the most critical part of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a little more than 3,000 people infected and more than fifty registered Coronavirus related deaths, El Salvador suffered another strong blow: the severe impacts of two consecutive tropical storms. Storms Amanda and Cristóbal have claimed 30 lives, destroyed hundreds of houses, affected bridges, obstructed streets due to landslides, and led to the evacuation of thousands of families.

The situation is especially hard since the recommendation to avoid COVID-19 is to stay at home, but for families who have lost their homes or are close to losing everything, effective distancing is almost impossible in crowded shelters where obtaining adequate food and clean water is priority.

The post-pandemic food crisis will now be more intense, since the storms caused the ruin of thousands of hectares used to cultivate corn, beans, vegetables and fruit, in addition to hundreds of lost cattle and livestock. The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock has reported 29,527 acres of affected crops and a harvest loss of 284,411 quintals of basic grains, affecting 22,476 producers.

As always, one of the most heavily affected areas is the coastal region, because the geography of the terrain favors the accumulation of water flooding the land. In the Bajo Lempa, communities Octavio Ortiz and Amando López have lost entire family farms, as well as their corn, vegetable and plantain crops and two substantial community fish production projects.

Thankfully, the sun is now shining over most parts of the country and the storm systems have moved north. According to the Ministry of Environment (MARN), El Salvador will experience a gradual return to typical rainy season conditions: scattered storms in the afternoons and evenings. Despite the reduction in rains, communities that live on the banks of the river Lempa continue to closely monitor it’s behavior, and they have also equipped temporary shelters for any emergency that may arise throughout the winter.

Voices on the Border maintains a state of alert as well in order to support these vulnerable communities take selected preventive measures or enact immediate live saving actions. At this time, we are working with the Amando López and Octavio Ortiz communities in their efforts to restore their massive crop and livestock loss.

If you would like to express your solidarity with these families, please consider making a donation to our 2020 El Salvador Storm Season Relief Fund and in doing so create some hope, in the midst of two crises.

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Superando la Devastación de las Tormentas Tropicales Amanda y Cristóbal

En medio de la parte más crítica de la pandemia de COVID-19, con un poco más de 3.000 personas infectadas y más de cincuenta muertes relacionadas con COVID-19, El Salvador sufrió otro fuerte golpe, los graves impactos de dos tormentas tropicales consecutivas. Las tormentas Amanda y Cristóbal se cobraron 30 vidas, destruyeron cientos de casas, afectaron puentes, obstruyeron calles debido a deslizamientos de tierra y llevaron a la evacuación de miles de familias.

La situación es conmovedora, en momentos donde la recomendación para evitar el COVID-19 es quedarse en casa, las familias que han perdido la suya o están cerca de perderla; el distanciamiento físico tampoco funciona, la gente se aglomera para conseguir un poco de comida o agua limpia y en los saturados albergues resulta casi imposible hacer efectivo dicho distanciamiento.

La crisis alimentaria que se advierte pos pandemia, ahora se presentará con mayor intensidad, puesto que las tormentas causaron la ruina de millas de hectáreas cultivadas con maíz, frijol, hortalizas y frutales además de cientos de cabezas de ganado perdidas. El Ministro de Agricultura y Ganadería ha reportado 17,369 manzanas de cultivos afectados y una pérdida de cosecha de 284,411 quintales de granos básicos, afectando a 22,476 productores.

Como siempre una de las regiones fuertemente afectadas por la pérdida de cultivos es la zona costera, debido a que la geografía del terreno favorece la acumulación de agua inundando los terrenos. En el Bajo Lempa, las comunidades Octavio Ortiz y Amando López han perdido granjas familiares enteras, así como sus cultivos de maíz, vegetales y plátanos y dos importantes proyectos comunitarios de producción pesquera.

Afortunadamente, el sol ahora brilla sobre la mayor parte del país y los sistemas de tormentas se han movido hacia el norte. Según el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente (MARN), El Salvador experimentará un retorno gradual a las condiciones típicas de la temporada de lluvias: tormentas dispersas por las tardes y noches. A pesar de la reducción de las lluvias, las comunidades que viven en las orillas del río Lempa continúan monitoreando de cerca su comportamiento, y también han equipado refugios temporales para cualquier emergencia que pueda surgir durante el invierno.

Voces en la Frontera también mantiene un estado de alerta para ayudar a estas comunidades vulnerables a tomar medidas preventivas seleccionadas o promulgar acciones inmediatas para salvar vidas. En este momento, estamos trabajando con las comunidades de Amando López y Octavio Ortiz en sus esfuerzos por restaurar su pérdida masiva de cultivos y ganado.

Si desea expresar su solidaridad con estas familias, considere hacer una donación a nuestro Fondo de Ayuda de Emergencia para la Temporada de Tormentas 2020 y, al hacerlo, cree alguna esperanza para ellas, en medio de dos crisis.

2020-06-08 TS Amanda Cristobal Snapshot (ESP)

Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, COVID 19, Disasters, News Highlights

Tropical Storm Amanda Ravages El Salvador

d4922581873ab499e55e7720a3ae7895On Sunday May 31st, the country of El Salvador issued a State of Emergency and Red Alert, after nearly two days of the constant terrential winds and rains carried by Tropical Storm Amanda. The storm touched down in various parts of the country and is leaving mild to large-scale devastation in it’s path.

The hardest hit departments are San Salvador, Sonosonate, La Libertad, and San Vicente.

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Over 2,200 families have been evacuated, 44 government-run shelters have been set up, 34 major landslides have been reported, 26 entire sectors are underwater, hundreds of trees, electrical posts and street lights are down, many of the country’s tunnels have flodded, and entire coastal communities have been swept away.

At the time of this writing, 11 people have lost their their lives, including a young child.

“At the national level, in 48 hours we had up to 400 millimeters of water in some areas of the country, which is more than 10% of what falls in a year in the territory,” explained the Minister of the Environment, Fernando López.”

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Unfortunately, our communities are also being hit hard by the storm. In the Bajo Lempa, entire crops have been lost and communities are on high alert for the possibility of flooding of the Lempa River.

The President of ACUDESBAL, by 3 p.m. 1,000 cubic meters of rain per second had fallen and by 5 p.m., they expect 1,500 cubic meters per second of rain to fall. Communities are being told to keep a close eye on the river and constantly verify its level and to work with local civil protection teams that are being assisted by the Army.

Communities Amando Lopez and Octavio Ortiz have also begun to clean and adecaute their casa comunals in the event families need to be evacuated.

In Morazán, the affects of the storm vary depending on the location. In Segundo Montes, things are relatively calm with no major damages reported except for downed trees.

However, places like San Carlos, San Francisco Gotera and Jocoatique are facing flooding and have had to evacuate various communities. Rio Torola is also being closely monitored and communities are preparing to evacuate if necessary.

tormenta-amandaAccording to the Ministry of Environment (MARN) the storm is supposed to lessen over the next 12 hours before eventually making it’s way towards northern Guatemala. MARN also projects that by the storm’s end, nine rivers, including the Jiquilisco Bay will overflow.

Our team remains in direct contact with our communities and groups in order to render whatever aid necessary, and we’ll continue to keep you all informed about the storm’s progression.

In the meantime, we ask that you keep El Salvador in your hearts and your prayers as it deals with yet another natural catastrophe during a most inopportune time.

Community News, Disasters

Community Octavio Ortiz Will Soon Inaugurate their Casa Comunal

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In 2012, the Octavio Ortíz community decided to rebuild their casa comunal.
The new infrastructure is more spacious and has a higher foundation, which is fundamental considering that in the past the communities in this part of ​​the country have suffered greatly from floods caused by the overflow of the Lempa River. This building will serve as a shelter for natural disasters and emergency situations.

The beginning wasn’t easy.
Elmer Portillo, who at that time was serving as the President of the community, recently commented on the committed effort put into the the project, “When we began the construction of the new communal house, we didn’t have enough money, nor secured support from NGOs or institutions, we only had the will and the ability to work.”

Despite these limitations, this is the result. DSC_3116A spacious modern structure with impressive architecture.

The community contributed 100% of the labor and also some of the economic resources to purchase materials such as concrete blocks, cement and zinc sheets. Various other sources, among them VOICES, have supported the project with small donations over the years. VOICES made a final donation of $4,750 for the installation of the floor, which will conclude the project in the next few months.

VOICES ON THE BORDER congratulates the community, especially its board of directors for all their determination and hard work.

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