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2011 El Salvador floods

Intense rains that fell in October 2011 triggered heavy floods in El Salvador, putting to the test Oxfam’s program to strengthen the capacity of Salvadoran partners to respond to emergencies.

Our response

In October 2011 in El Salvador, the rains were cataclysmic. A tropical depression that hovered over the region for more than a week dumped nearly 60 inches of rain—far more than the devastating hurricane Mitch delivered in 1998. Thirty-five people died in the October storm, a number that is too high but that reflects great improvements in preparedness and response: Hurricane Mitch took the lives of 240 Salvadorans. But the floods of October dealt greater economic losses than Mitch: 30-40 percent of corn crops and 70 percent of bean crops were destroyed.

Oxfam's program in El Salvador builds on years of working with communities and partners to reduce the risks and suffering that so often accompany hazards like floods and earthquakes. We had provided partners with in-depth training in emergency response, and we had prepositioned supplies near an area prone to flooding.

When the storm struck, the Salvadoran response team was ready to move. At the shelters where people from flood-affected communities were gathering, team members quickly installed water tanks and banks of latrines. They distributed hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes and paste, sanitary napkins, diapers, towels, and detergent—materials aimed at protecting the health and well-being of those forced to leave their belongings behind. Stoves, pots, utensils, and portable sinks from our warehouse facilitated cooking and eating. Read more.

As the rains abated and the flood waters receded, people returned to their communities where damage to homes, wells, and crops was severe. Oxfam and partners continued our work, installing water tanks, distributing supplies, carrying out agriculture rehabilitation projects, and, where possible, helping communities mitigate future floods.

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Saving lives 24/7

Some disasters can’t be prevented—or imagined in advance. But as soon as they strike, Oxfam needs to be ready to respond. Lives depend on it.

Your gift to Oxfam’s Saving Lives 24/7 Fund will go directly toward our emergency work, present and future, so that when crises erupt, we're ready to spring into action.

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