Surviving the storm in El Salvador
This week my Salvadoran colleagues and I are travelling around to some of the hardest-hit communities, listening to survivors tell their stories of what happened.March 11th, 2010 | by Elizabeth Stevens
Elizabeth Stevens is in El Salvador, where she’s visiting communities affected by severe flooding and landslides brought on by Hurricane Ida in November. She’ll be blogging about the steps people have taken to prepare for storms.
I arrived in El Salvador last Thursday night, feeling as strange carrying a fleece jacket in the 80-degree heat as I did in Boston wearing flip-flops through the snow squall that ushered me to the airport earlier that day.
My job here is to meet with communities affected by a storm of incredible intensity that struck El Salvador’s central provinces last fall, where 14 inches of rain fell in just four hours. Trees and boulders went crashing down into mountain villages that day, and rivers suddenly grown deeper and wider and more powerful took out everything in their paths.
Back in November, we quickly learned the grim news of losses and death; not so well understood is what was saved.
For months—in some cases years—before the storm, Oxfam had been working with local partners and community leaders to prepare for emergencies like this one. But did the preparedness work? Did it reduce suffering and losses? Did it save lives? This week my Salvadoran colleagues and I are travelling around to some of the hardest-hit communities, listening to survivors tell their stories of what happened.