Christian groups gear up to help El Salvador hurricane victims

The remnants of Hurricane Ida may have largely brushed the southeastern United States, but it left significant damage and loss of life in El Salvador. About 140 people were killed in mudslides and heavy rains caused by Ida. Three days of national mourning began today in the country. According to the BBC, thousands of residents are living in shelters. Large areas of the country do not have electricity and clean water. The capital city of San Salvador, and the central province of San Vicente felt the strongest impact when Ida barreled through Central America over the weekend. Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes has declared a national emergency. According to UNICEF, more than 2,000 families have been evacuated to 123 shelters. The shelters have been set up in community centers, sports facilities and schools. The numbers are expected to grow. An estimated 5,000 people are in need of evacuations that refuse to leave their homes out of fear of losing what little belongings they have left. The impact has been felt by Christian humanitarian organizations working in the area. Compassion International is currently working with its church partners on the ground to assess damage and provide relief where possible. The organization estimates that at least 21 of its child development center have been affected. The organization has committed $20,000 to the immediate effort. “My heart and the heart of Compassion go out to the people of El Salvador during this tragic time of loss,” said Mark Hanlon, senior vice president of Compassion International, USA. “My prayers are with the children and families we serve there as well as Compassion’s El Salvador staff who are working tirelessly to bring much-needed food and supplies to those who need it.” Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has also channeled funding to help survivors and families in the region. LWR is tracking the situation, too, with its partners in El Salvador and is making direct fundraising appeals for help. World Vision is reporting that entire villages in San Vicente have been destroyed. The organization will be sending blankets, mattresses, water purification tablets and water collection bags, and distribute kitchen supplies and emergency family and child hygiene kits. “People were caught off guard because the districts hardest hit by the floods and landslides are not normally prone to these types of disasters,” said Laura Mata, communications manager for World Vision in El Salvador. “Mothers are missing their children and families have lost their homes. All the crops have been washed away so there is nothing to support them even after the water subsides. They really need help from the government, other countries and aid organizations like us.” Links: Compassion International: Lutheran World Service: World Vision:

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