Zulma Rodríguez, a Seventh-day Adventist, looks on as she looks at the devastation Tropical Storm Amanda caused to her home when the roof was torn off and wooden structure was taken by the torrential rains on May 31, 2020, in San Salvador, El Salvador. More than 160 Adventist families were displaced after the storm hit the Central American country. [Photo: Courtesy of Mario Gusmán]

June 3, 2020 | San Salvador, El Salvador | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division

Tropical Storm Amanda drenched El Salvador on May 31, 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 them 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, we can rely on God,” said Pastor Abel Pacheco, president of the church in El Salvador, during a special message to the church membership yesterday.  Pastor Pacheco reported that two church members have died due to Covid-19 while 21 members have contracted the virus.

The Barra Salada Adventist Church in Sonsonate, the western part of El Salvador is the only church that reported damage to its flooded structure so far. [Photo: El Salvador Union]

Pastor 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.”

So far, only one church—the Barra Salada Adventist Church in Sonsonate in the western part of the country—has been damaged, according to Fabricio Rivera, communication director for the church in El Salvador.

“We have heard from so many members like Zulma Rodríguez and her husband Mario Guzman from the city of Delgado, who lost everything they had,” said Rivera.

Many like Josué Ortiz, who lives in Sonsonate, spent many distressing moments when the river took the front part of his house, explained Rivera. Local pastors like Pastor Josué Solis in Sonsonate, dressed in his Master Guide uniform to visit the Ortiz family and other families to offer comfort and prayer.

Dressed in his Master Guide uniform with a vest marked with the Seventh-day Adventist Church Logo, 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]

Many Adventist families and their neighbors are taking shelter, he 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 Pabro Ventura, ADRA El Salvador  director.  ADRA International, ADRA Inter-America and local ADRA funds will assist about 300 families with basic food items and tissue paper by the end of next week, 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.

Pastor Josué Solis of Sonsonate, El Salvador, looks on at the rising waters Tropical Storm Amanda brought earlier this week. [Photo: El Salvador Union]

Ventura said that ADRA El Salvador has already distributed clothing items for children and the elderly to 100 families this week.

“Yesterday 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,” said Rivera.

Now the country is bracing for another storm that threatens El Salvador in the coming days, Rivera concluded.

To learn more about ADRA El Salvador response, visit Facebook at: adra.elsalvador

Fabricio Rivera contributed to this report.

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