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Disaster Response


USAID/El Salvador has been at the forefront of responding to both natural and manmade disasters, bringing effective relief to Salvadorans across the country. Over the last 30 years, USAID has provided approximately $400 million to rehabilitate and rebuild key infrastructure damaged by natural disasters.

USAID has a robust history of involvement in disaster relief in El Salvador. From the disastrous effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and other natural phenomena that hit the country earlier, to the earthquakes in 2001, and flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Stan and the simultaneous eruption of the Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) volcano in 2005, USAID has played a key role in providing disaster relief to the people of El Salvador. Most recently, the U.S. Government has undertaken a critical role in both immediate and long-term relief efforts as a result of mudslides and flooding associated with Hurricane Ida in November 2009 and Tropical Depression 12-E in October of 2011.


Hurricane Mitch: October 30, 1998

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Mitch USAID, through the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), deployed Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) to help the Government of El Salvador assess damage and provide relief assistance to those most affected. USAID was able to locally purchase and transport relief commodities and supplies, including plastic sheeting, water jugs, water tanks, and blankets. USAID also granted funds to various NGOs for disaster relief transition projects.

Earthquakes: January 13, 2001 and February 13, 2001

Through OFDA, USAID purchased tools, hardhats, gloves, goggles, flashlights, lighting and related supplies or equipment required for search and rescue activities. OFDA further conducted six airlifts of relief commodities to El Salvador, containing medical supplies, hygiene kits, plastic sheeting, water containers, and wool blankets. With its partners, Cooperative Housing Foundation, CARE, and Samaritan’s Purse, USAID constructed 13,061 temporary shelters for earthquake-affected families in January and, with the help of additional partners, 8,944 temporary shelters in February. USAID's Office of Food for Peace contributed emergency food commodities valued at nearly $1 million.

Additional OFDA funding in both January and February allowed USAID to locally purchase emergency relief supplies (blankets, mattresses, and water containers), obtain administrative support, and establish 18 temporary health posts. Under the Earthquake Reconstruction Program USAID was able to construct 26,872 permanent homes for families affected by the earthquakes. USAID also rebuilt 53 schools, 19 city halls, five health units, and three markets, among other infrastructure.

Tropical Storm Stan and Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) Volcano Eruption: October 2005

The severe flooding caused by Tropical Storm Stan, coupled with the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano in early October 2005, affected approximately half of the population of El Salvador. USAID provided emergency relief supplies - mattresses, blankets, and hygiene kits - in addition to plastic sheeting for construction of temporary shelters. USAID further engaged in emergency water and sanitation activities and redirected funds to support recovery phase activities. Through the U.S. Geologic Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, the U.S. Government provided assessment and monitoring equipment and a volcanologist to assess volcanic activity and damage following the Santa Ana eruption.

After the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano, USAID and its partner, the Center for Disaster Protection, used funding from OFDA to develop a program that strengthened risk mitigation and disaster management in the municipalities directly affected by the Ilamatepec volcano. In coordination with the National Civil Protection System and the Ministries of Education and Health, the program promoted emergency response activities; equipped shelters, operation centers, and emergency brigades; and continues to conduct periodic evacuation simulations and risk management trainings.

Hurricane Ida: November 8, 2009

Tthe U.S. Government, through USAID, partnered with the Government of El Salvador and other international relief organizations to help both immediate and long-term rebuilding efforts after the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida. The storm caused severe damage and loss of life in five of El Salvador’s 14 departments: San Salvador, La Paz, Cuscatlán, San Vicente, and La Libertad. USAID immediately redirected existing funds to restore livelihoods affected by the storm. Additionally, USAID helped to provide potable water, temporary housing, and livelihood recovery.

USAID, in partnership with the Government of El Salvador, is now focusing on long-term relief efforts. The U.S. Government contributed funding for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and new development activities related to humanitarian assistance in the country. These funds will be used for reconstruction and rehabilitation of up to 95 schools, 15 health clinics, and 12 bridges in the departments of San Salvador, La Paz, Cuscatlán, San Vicente and La Libertad. Moreover, USAID is working with other partners to augment technical assistance training to increase El Salvador’s capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters.

Hurricane Ida Disaster Assistance Activities

Immediate disaster relief: USAID has been working with the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to redirect funds to restore livelihoods. SOUTHCOM is scheduling additional medical civil action programs to affected areas and has been undertaking minor emergency repairs to schools and clinics. They are further providing funding for construction of a school, an emergency operations center, warehouse, and wells for potable water.

Rehabilitation and reconstruction: USAID will rebuild and repair infrastructure (bridges, roads, schools and health clinics) in the affected areas. The construction of these projects will assist the affected region with a source of temporary employment, build confidence in local communities, and contribute to long-term economic recovery by improving access to local commodities.

Tropical Storm 12-E: October 2011

In October 2011, Tropical Storm 12-E caused flooding and mudslides across El Salvador. USAID provided a total of $139,847 in emergency response, which included:

  • 96 boxes of plastic for temporary shelters
  • 2,800 hygiene kits
  • 166 tool sets that included shovels, picks, and pick-axes previously donated and stored by Civil Protection for use in emergencies
  • School supplies and facilitators for 18 schools that were used as shelters and which provided children with educational and recreational activities in coordination with the Business Foundation for Educational Development
  • Blankets, mattresses, food, and water for shelters in San Pedro Masahuat and four municipalities in San Vicente, through implementing partners Save the Children and Lutheran World Relief

Last updated: November 20, 2014

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