A NEWS RELEASE
From the office of ELCIC Mission in the World
Winnipeg, October 7, 2005 (ELCIC)-- As a pastor-missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), Rev. Brian Rude serves in El Salvador where he works with the Quetzalcoatl Foundation which conducts workshops on human well-being and mental health with groups of prison inmates throughout the country and with groups of at-risk youth in several neighbourhoods in and around San Salvador, the capital. As the El Salvador region focused on evacuation efforts following the eruption of western El Salvador's Ilamatepec Volcano, and search and rescue efforts after repeated flooding and heavy rains in the area caused massive landslides, Rev. Brian Rude provided the following update in emails received this week:
Greetings from El Salvador, where a variety of "natural" elements--rain, lava and ash--is dropping from the sky. Persistent rains are causing repeated flooding and hundreds of landslides, including one which covered the house of one Quetzalcoatl colleague last week. I was able to visit the mostly-abandoned community of "San Lorenzo", now a massive swamp of contaminated water near the coast, and the shelter--a local public school--to which those residents have fled.
El Salvador is in a state of emergency, officially declared Monday by President Saca, and a state of "public calamity", declared by the legislative assembly the following day. There are two simultaneous red alerts in effect. One is due to last Saturday's eruption of Ilamatepec (Santa Ana) Volcano, in the western part of El Salvador, which had been giving warning signals for a couple weeks. The other is due to the relentless rainfall, caused by the "Stan" tropical storm off the Yucatan peninsula, and causing flooding and landslides throughout the country, much of Central America and parts of Mexico. Since almost all of El Salvador is residential, almost any landslide has potential tragic effects. To date, there have been 65 persons killed, most buried by landslides while sleeping. Many homes have been destroyed, many more are flooded, and many roads are blocked. The crisis caused by heavy rains has been going on for a couple weeks, though it has become more intense this week. Over 60,000 persons have been evacuated to 360 shelters in different parts of the country, including a neighbouring community to the one in which I live, which was buried by a landslide in 1982. School and university classes have been suspended for the week, though most private businesses are still obligating workers to show up for their regular shifts, in spite of the difficulty of mobilization and the risks faced by their families left at home.
"No hay guerra que dure 100 años" (There is no war that lasts 100 years), as García Márquez wrote. Nor is there a storm that lasts forever, though a family caught living suddenly in the midst of a rushing river, facing seemingly unending rains, may not see the future from that perspective. Today [Thursday] has brought a respite from--though not likely an end to--the rains. The sun even tried to shine briefly. This relief does not provide much peace of mind to the 60,000 persons evacuated to shelters, left without homes, or with homes in what remain--and what may always remain--dangerous areas in which to live, and with few or no alternatives. The river delta areas continue to be seriously flooded, especially as the dam floodgates of several reservoirs are opened. The tragedy of the drama is now shifting west and north, to Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.
Action by Churches Together (ACT), of which the Lutheran World Federation office in San Salvador is a part, is active, coordinating Lutheran and ecumenical efforts in response to the multiple needs. Thank you for your concern and prayers.
For further information on ELCIC Missionaries and Mission in the World, please visit: http://www.elcic.ca/mission/index.html