Vulnerability originates in inequalities: Tropical Storm 12E wreaks havoc across Central America

Sunday October 16 2011

San Salvador, El Salvador

The heavy rains that have fallen all over the Central American region for the past week are creating disaster and destruction, yesterday resulting in the Guatemalan and Salvadoran presidents' declaration of a state of calamity for both countries.

In El Salvador, evacuations continue throughout all parts of the country but the coastal and mountainous zones remain the hardest hit.  At the time of writing this article, 32 people have died as a result of the rains and more than 20,000 are in shelters (

The rains, which began in El Salvador the night of Monday, October 11th, are from the Tropical Storm 12E, which hovers over the region and manifests in waves of heavy rains, slowing down occasionally to drizzle, and returning again to downpours.

According to the United Nations,  50,000  Central American people are directly impacted by the storm in the Central American region.

Coordination between government rescue, local organizations, and citizens has been positively evaluated by relief organizations and non governmental organizations, but this phenomenon has caused more damage than the human and financial resources can meet.

The state television channel is dedicated full time to giving ongoing reports on every part of the country, through which citizens and public officials share information from their communities about emergency situations, floods, evacuations, food prices, conditions in shelters, mudslides, blocked highways, infrastructural damage, and more, via social networks such as facebook and twitter and telephone.

In an address to the country by President Maurico Funes on Saturday night, he urged Salvadorans living in dangerous zones to leave their houses and move to safe locations, prioritizing their lives over their belongings. He also called on Salvadorans to leave political party affiliations behind in their relief work, and to act based on brotherhood and solidarity.  In his Sunday address, he assured fast and coordinated actions between state institutions to insure that communities in risk are evacuated and that people in shelters receive much needed food, clothing, and health care.

Carolina Amaya, of the Mesoamerican Climate Justice Campaign and envrironmentalist organization Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña emphasized the intense impact that the storm will have on the livelihoods of Central Americans for much more time after the rains pass.  "Some people in the communities are saying that more rain has fallen now that when Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998.  But what we are seeing as another concern is the loss of corn, bean, and vegetable crops, which will have a devastating and long standing impact food security across the region for months to come," she commented, while visiting agricultural communities in the western department of Sonsonate.

Although Central America is currently in its rainy season, the sustained and intense rainfalls of tropical storm 12E are much more than what usually occurs during the rainy season, and is yet another result of what people iadd to the list of impacts of climate change in the region.


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