El Salvador’s been feeling a little vulnerable this week.
Because of El Salvador’s location, it is a country that is very vulnerable to natural disasters. We are located in the isthmus of Central America with a coastline on the Pacific. But the Caribbean is on the coast of our neighbor Honduras, so we receive weather systems from both oceans which can create a large amount of havoc in this tiny country. This week we were slammed with rain from the Caribbean side by Tropical Storm Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole. We also had wind and rain from a weather system out in the Pacific. The ground was already saturated because we are coming to the end of the rainy season. Flood waters began to run in the streets and towns across the country as river banks began to overflow. The rain also caused damage to the bean, corn, and coffee crops all of which are staples for survival in El Salvador as well as the livelihood of many. Schools were also closed around the country because of the flood conditions.
El Salvador is sometimes called a land of volcanoes, and many houses are built on the sides of volcanic mountains. These houses are mainly constructed out of pieces of sheet metal, and some wood. Volcanic soil isn’t exactly the most secure, so this week many houses began sliding down hillsides. There are thousands without homes right now in El Salvador. Mudslides are also a major cause of deaths during the rainy season as roads cave in, and houses are buried in mud. Three Salvadorans died this week, and during this rainy season more than 300 have died across Central America. The main cause of death? Mudslides.
On Thursday, we also experienced an earthquake. This is bad as the rains and volcanic soil have already caused many houses to slide off the edges of hills. Shaking things up is not a good thing. On a side note, this particular earthquake had my heart pounding and had me sprinting up the stairs to where the kids were sleeping. We’ve experienced two 6.0 quakes since moving here, and this one was only a 4.8 but it was just 30 miles from our house, and only 5 miles beneath the surface. It started as a slow vibration then our furniture and the ground began moving back and forth. Thankfully, everyone was okay and there was no major damage.
This week I have found myself feeling vulnerable too. I have been praying to God to please stop the rains so no more people die. This is a far cry from the “Dear God, please give me a nice day at the beach” prayers that I may have been prone to in the past. I also had to remind myself this week that God is in control of earthquakes too.
After the quake, I checked in on my kids. They slept soundly through the whole thing, totally unaware of how their panicking mother was feeling! They were resting securely, peacefully sleeping without a care in the world. I know that even in the most vulnerable of times, I can have this peace too because my Father is always holding El Salvador in His hands.
This photo was taken in one of communities that experienced flooding and mudslides. You can see the muddy mess that Salvadorans have to dig out of following these storms. (Photo credit: La Prensa Grafica)