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Tropical Storm Agatha caused disastrous flooding and mudslides in Guatemala and El Salvador. Over 140 lives were lost and over 100,000 people were left homeless. In response, AmeriCares delivered over $1.5 million worth of critical medical aid to help men, women and children affected by the disaster.
Families in Guatemala and El Salvador are especially vulnerable to dangerous flash floods and mudslides – massive avalanches of debris, dirt, water and rocks. AmeriCares helps serve medical needs of people throughout the Central American region, many of which live in tin-roofed shacks in the mountains or squalid urban slums.
“Their homes offer almost no shelter from the storms. Lack of transportation and treacherous conditions make it very difficult for families to evacuate,” said Christoph Gorder, vice president of emergency response. “That’s why AmeriCares and our partners are ready to go directly into the affected communities to deliver aid to men, women and children in need.”
Hard-hit Guatemala received the bulk of the relief supplies. A sea shipment and an airlift included medicines to help treat people suffering from pain, fever, infections and respiratory illnesses. It also included personal hygiene items and other supplies to help families displaced by the disaster.
El Salvador is home to AmeriCares Latin American headquarters, from which regional aid efforts were coordinated. In addition to local outreach and medical donations, AmeriCares sent an additional airlift including antibiotics, pain medicines and ointments to help people wounded during crushing mudslides.
“It’s clear that our country is very vulnerable to hurricanes and storms. It is almost inevitable that we are going to have more terrible episodes like this in the coming months.” said Dr. Gabriela de Hurtado, a physician with a local partner in El Salvador. “Our warehouse is almost empty after responding to the storm and the donation from Americares will help us do more to help those affected.”
AmeriCares has worked extensively in El Salvador and Guatemala since 1986, delivering over $750 million worth of critical medical aid and disaster relief. Latin American countries, including El Salvador and Guatemala, are often prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and mudslides. Most recently, AmeriCares responded to the earthquake in Chile and the devastating mudslides in El Salvador in 2009.