Responding to Emergencies
El Salvador is the country most vulnerable to natural disasters in Lation America. As the second most deforested nation in Latin America it is greatly affected by global climate change and natural phenomena including earthquakes, hurricanes, and heavy rains. Lack of resources, stable infrastructure, and disaster prevention make poor communities in El Salvador increasingly vulnerable to disasters. SHARE has been present to provide support to communities affected by such emergencies throughout the years and is working in rural El Salvador to prepare communities for disasters and introduce sustainable farming techniques that can help prevent land slides and extreme flooding.
Learn more about climate change in El Salvador and how SHARE has responded to:
Respecting human rights during emergencies is a SHARE priority, spurring our involvement with the SPHERE Project. SHARE supports organizations that work for environmental justice, including a climate change adaptability project.
In October 1986, a 5.7 level earthquake hit San Salvador. Nearly 1,500 people were killed, while 10,000 were injured and 200,000 were left homeless. SHARE rallied its base in the United States to fundraise nearly $100,000 to support the victims. SHARE also sent a medical delegation to El Salvador to attend to those who were injured.
In October of 1998, El Salvador was devastated by Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in centuries. In El Salvador alone, 240 people were killed and $400 million of damage was done, leaving thousands of families homeless. SHARE supporters in the United States were in a meeting together when they heard the news and quickly mobilized to provide support. SHARE was able to fundraise nearly two million dollars in disaster relief for El Salvador.
In 2001, El Salvador was hit by two earthquakes, exactly one month apart, on January 13th and February 13th. The January earthquake was followed by nearly 2,500 aftershocks leading up to the second earthquake. There were nearly 16,000 landslides resulting from the earthquakes, due in part to the massive deforestation for land development projects. Around 13,000 people were killed as a result of both earthquakes. SHARE supported over 40 projects that provided immediate relief as well as reconstruction and disaster prevention, including a mental health project for victims affected by the earthquakes. Analysis of the two earthquakes suggested that poor preparation and high levels of poverty contributed to the devastation. Though countries from all over the world donated to earthquake relief, corruption among local governments and poor administration of funds prevented the victims from receiving much of the financial aid. While SHARE did fundraise among its base to support the affected communities, we also put a greater emphasis on advocating for humane conditions and justice for the earthquake victims, which led to our later incorporation into the SPHERE project.
Hurricane Stan and Eruption of the Ilamatapec Volcano
In October 2005, the Ilamatapec Volcano in Santa Ana erupted, killing 2 people, injuring 7 and forcing many more to flee their homes. A few days later, Hurricane Stan hit El Salvador, killing 72 people and forcing over 50,000 to leave their homes. The affects of the volcanic eruption led to increased mudslides and destruction from Hurricane Stan. SHARE supported 12 projects with a total of $17,000 in direct emergency response, as well as reconstruction and disaster prevention. One example of disaster prevention project was the formation of an environmental committee in a community located in an area vulnerable to flooding that monitored environmental issues in the community and worked to prevent and protect the community from destruction in the case of a future hurricane or tropical storm.
Tropical Storm Ida
On November 7th, 2009, a low pressure system pushed north by Hurricane Ida, caused massive amounts of rain to fall down on El Salvador in just 24 hour time period. The rains caused heavy mudslides and flooding in the regions of San Vicente, La Paz, La Libertad, San Salvador, and Cuscatlan.Two-hundred and seventy people were killed and thousands were left homeless. SHARE raised $60,000 to go towards community reconstruction and a women’s mental health project. SHARE also coordinated with the World Food Program to provide basic food packets to affected communities in La Paz and La Libertad.
Tropical Storm 12E
In October 2011, Tropical Depression 12-E dumped more than five feet of rain on El Salvador in less than ten days. The record shattering floods destroyed more that 165,000 pounds of basic grains and infrastructure across the country, resulting in a loss of $800 million, 4% of El Salvador’s GDP. More than 50,000 people were forced to evacuate their home and 32 people lost their lives. Communities with emergency plans, most of which were created through the SPHERE project, experienced no loss of life. Thanks to the generous support of SHARE donors, religious orders, and foundations, SHARE El Salvador was able to send more than $40,000 to communities devastated by the flooding. Read this October 2011 Flood Response to learn more.