To learn more about Salvadoran Pastors Ruth and Alex Orantes, and for information about contributing to support their ministries in El Salvador, please visit

Friday, November 13, 2009

More emergency efforts in El Salvador

On the weekend of November 7th and 8th, El Salvador was hit with the “tail” of Hurricane Ida. Statistics are still being gathered, but early accounts reported 130 deaths and more than 13,000 people left without homes. This total is sure to rise as emergency relief workers continue to work their way through damaged buildings and areas that have experienced landslides.

Please pray for all of those affected by the flooding and landslides, and for the individuals and organizations working to respond.

The damage was mostly felt in poor communities in the area of San Salvador and the southeastern regions of the country. In addition to causing floods and mudslides that have resulted in the devastating loss of lives and homes, the hurricane arrived right on time to coincide with El Salvador's seasonal bean harvest, so the loss of this crucial food supply will have a lasting impact in the months ahead, as well.

CBC's El Salvador Partners immediately received emails from Ruth Orantes and others at Iglesia Bautista Shekina, seeking our prayers for and our solidarity with people who are struggling in the midst of this crisis. The region around Santa Ana received heavy rains, but no significant damage. See the request for prayers from our brothers and sisters at Shekina in Spanish in the previous post below.

The SHARE Foundation is also sending updates and reports with photos from the affected areas of the country. As is often the case in these sorts of situations, the most immediate problems include access to emergency shelter, access to potable water, and food. SHARE Foundation, in collaboration with its partners in the three zones of San Salvador, La Paz and San Vicente, will be working to provide emergency relief. This will include distribution of plastic sheeting and wood for temporary housing; food and water.

The new American Baptist missionary in El Salvador, Kim Kushner, is also sending reports about the storm and emergency relief efforts as she visits affected communities. Here is her report from Tuesday, November 11th:

Today I made a visit to the community of San Martin, located on the outskirts of San Salvador. San Martin is one of many communities devastated by landslides caused by the intense rain this past Saturday.  
In October I spent a week in the community, a glorified shantytown that appeared along the railroad tracks during the civil war. The community was leveled by the earthquake in 2001, and has been battered by gangs, violence, and extreme poverty.  Most families are subsistence farmers, growing corn and beans on the steep hillsides that form the inlets to Lake Ilopango. People were hopeful, farmers were just one month from a successful harvest, the community had managed to rebuild more than 90 homes since the 2001 quake.

Late Saturday night San Martin was transformed. Houses built on the steep hillsides and on the edges of precipices disappeared.  They simply don’t exist anymore. Several households were caught off guard and the families were buried in their homes or washed down the hillside. 100% of corn and bean crops, just one week short of harvest, were washed away. Temporary plastic, tin, and bamboo pole structures are being built to house families on the soccer field.

In spite of the catastrophe, the community is working together to secure drinking water, and is pressuring the government to follow through on its promise to relocate those who are without homes or in precarious locations. A few organizations have come to see the damage; little to no aid has arrived in the community. 
San Martin is just one of many communities affected. 13 communities working FEBES, the Baptist Federation of El Salvador, report deaths, damaged or lost homes, or lost crops. Please keep this country, the communities affected, and the Federation team working to respond quickly to the most urgent needs in prayer. Later we’ll begin to coordinate rebuilding efforts and search for long-term food resources.
Kim Kushner, American Baptist Missionary in El Salvador

  • To contribute to the SHARE Foundation emergency relief in response to Hurricane Ida, make a secure on-line contribution through the SHARE website ( You may also contribute via check payable to SHARE (please write “Hurricane Ida Relief” in the memo) and mail your contribution to: SHARE Foundation / P.O. Box 29620 / Washington, DC 20017 .

  • You may also make contributions for American Baptist Churches emergency relief efforts through the CBC offering plate on Sunday mornings. Your check should be made payable to Central Baptist Church with “One Great Hour of Sharing – El Salvador” on the memo line.