Making a permanent impression since 1994
October 3, 2005
El Salvador survives triple threat
Flooding, hail and a volcano
SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – The precipitation that poured down on Salvadoran lands
last week drenched my country as I’ve never seen before. I remember always
having non-stop rainfall around October and early November when I was younger.
But the intensity of the rain and the chilly winds we’ve had these past days
are something new.
Thursday, Sept. 29, things started getting really ugly. I was watching the news,
and I could see that people living in rural places, outside the metropolitan
area, were being flooded by the rivers that had grown to monstrous proportions.
here, it is very common for poor people to live along rivers. What’s sad,
however, is that most of these people live in mud huts, so their houses are
virtually flooded away – along with everything they have.
weather forecaster mentioned that the currents related to Tropical Storm Stan,
which had hit Mexico’s peninsula, were now striking El Salvador and possibly
lucky enough not to experience the chaos as it is. In a severe storm, people
living in the city are mainly affected only by the fallen trees and the loss of
some power lines.
realized how widespread the problem was, our charity organization at the
Panamerican School decided to start a campaign in order to collect goods to give
out to people that need them.
Friday, it seemed the rain had been going on forever, with dark and gray days
all week. What really made me realize things were getting serious was something
that happened that afternoon.
just coming out of my last period physics class and I could hear the thundering
in the sky. Then, the chilly winds became more than just chilly. I was starting
to freeze. Suddenly, the cold was so intense I could feel it in my bones, inside
of me. It was getting so cold; people were getting seriously frightened about
all of us students walked out of the campus, we lived something most of us had
never experienced before. Ice was falling from the sky.
though this is common in northern and southern countries, here in Central
America we never have hail storms. The coldest it gets is probably 20 ºC –
warm enough to melt any ice before it hits land.
I’ve never been out of El Salvador, I was actually scared to feel solid water
falling on my head. But I was curious enough to touch it, just to prove to
myself it was really ice.
got to the car, the rain was now even more furious and the streets became
rivers. The hail was falling on top of the car’s roof and you could hear the
sound of ice crushing. It was all very scary.
night, it rained like never before.
thought everything was going to calm down. On Saturday morning, the sun shone
for a while and there was no sign of any more hail or flooding rain.
another disaster unexpectedly struck the nation at around 8 a.m. when the
volcano Ilamatepec, located in Santa Ana in the western part of the country,
Ilamatepec expelled incandescent rocks, ashes and boiling water, more than 5,000
people were evacuated from around the zone.
I was so
concerned for these people. After first suffering the wrath of the rainfall,
they were now facing Ilamatepec’s fury.
Salvadoran government raised an orange alert because of the heavy rains and a
red alert because of the volcano’s eruption. They also advised people near
Santa Ana and Sonsonate not to go out of their houses because the sulphur
released by the volcano mixed with the water from the precipitation creates
sulphuric acid, which burns the skin.
are now in a nationwide alert over two simultaneous natural disasters, and the
government has opened up stadiums to serve evacuees and help them cope with this
private and public schools have suspended classes until further notice.
it’s Monday morning and the rain still isn’t stopping. The volcano, they
say, has remained active and we all hope lava is not expelled
Even though it saddens me to see my country and my people go through this torment, I feel extremely thankful to be amongst the fortunate ones living safely away from the real danger.
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