ADRA prepares for initial response to assist with food and other items for those affected.
Tropical Storm Amanda drenched El Salvador on May 31, 2020, killing 16 people and causing widespread damage to roads and bridges from overflowing rivers. Thousands were left homeless in areas already deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The homes of more than 160 Adventist families were destroyed or flooded, and many of the families are in shelters, church leaders said. No deaths among the church members were reported.
“Even through this situation that we are living today here in El Salvador, with the COVID-19 and this natural disaster affecting so many people and so many members, we can all look upward during these difficult times and rely on God,” said Abel Pacheco, president of the Adventist Church in El Salvador, during a special message to the church membership on June 2. Pacheco reported that two church members have died due to COVID-19, while 21 members have contracted the virus.
Pacheco encouraged members to continue trusting in the “God who protects us, in the God of miracles, and the God who helps in the midst of all that is happening in our country, giving us hope in the Lord.”
The Barra Salada Adventist church in Sonsonate, in the western part of El Salvador, is the only church so far that reported damage to its structure from Tropical Storm Amanda. [Photo: El Salvador Union]
Dressed in his Master Guide uniform with a vest marked with the Seventh-day Adventist Church logo, local pastor Josué Solis (right) prays for the Ortiz family after their home in Sosonante, El Salvador, was destroyed by Tropical Storm Amanda. [Photo: El Salvador Union]
Zulma Rodríguez, a Seventh-day Adventist, looks at the devastation Tropical Storm Amanda caused to her home when the roof was torn off and the wooden structure was taken down by the torrential rains on May 31, 2020, in Delgado, El Salvador. More than 160 Adventist families were displaced after the storm hit the Central American country. [Photo: courtesy of Mario Gusmán]
According to Fabricio Rivera, communication director for the church in El Salvador, only one church — the Barra Salada Adventist church in Sonsonate, in the western part of the country — has been damaged.
“We have heard from so many members like Zulma Rodríguez and her husband, Mario Guzmán, from the city of Delgado, who lost everything they had,” Rivera said.
Many like Josué Ortiz, who lives in Sonsonate, endured distressing moments when the river took the front part of his house, Rivera said. Local pastor Josué Solis in Sonsonate, dressed in his Master Guide uniform, visited the Ortiz family and other families to offer comfort and prayer.
Many Adventist families and their neighbors are taking shelter, Rivera added.
The government has made 160 shelters available and reports that more than 24,000 families across the Central American country have been affected.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in El Salvador has already contacted providers to purchase food to assist 800 families, said Juan Pablo Ventura, ADRA El Salvador director. Funds from ADRA International, ADRA Inter-America, and local ADRA offices will assist about 300 families with basic food items and tissue paper by June 5, according to Ventura. “We are pulling additional funds here to assist 300 more families who need the assistance,” he added.
Food distribution will take place throughout the five local church conferences across El Salvador with the help of church pastors and volunteers, who will deliver the goods to the displaced families.
Ventura said that ADRA El Salvador has already distributed clothing items for children and the elderly to 100 families.
“Yesterday [on June 2] we had less rain, but early this morning, the rains are intensifying, prompting meteorologists to state that Amanda brought the average rainwater that falls throughout an entire year in the country,” Rivera said.
Now the country is bracing for another storm that threatens El Salvador in the coming days, he added.