SAN SALVADOR – At 2 a.m. on Saturday, November 2, a neighbour knocked on the door to warn Estela and her family that the river level was rising dangerously. Suddenly, water poured into the house from everywhere, the doors flew in all directions.
"In a matter of seconds the water was up to our necks and we tried to get out as fast as we could. Suddenly, the lights went out and afterwards I did not see my family again,” Estela said, recalling her experience.
Too tired to swim
“I remember hearing my husband yelling and telling me to climb up a tree. I tried to swim, but I was too tired to keep going and gave up. I don't know how, but I ended up on the top of a car and was dragged several kilometres downstream. That’s how I survived."
“I can't believe what's happened to us. I lost my husband, six grandchildren, my brothers, nephews. The smallest of my grandchildren was one year and six months old.
Estela, 58, lives in the community of "La Caridad" in the department of San Vicente, one of the areas worst hit by the storms and torrential rains. She, along with two surviving grandchildren, received nutritious High Energy Biscuits from WFP at one of the emergency centres set up in the wake of the disaster.
WFP reached more than 7,000 people with emergency rations in the immediate aftermath of the recent floods. Next week it is scheduled to begin full food distributions -- dry rations of rice, beans and vegetable oil -- in order to help affected people get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.
Hurricane Ida left 196 people dead, 78 missing, and caused damage calculated at US$870 million. The worst affected areas were San Vicente, La Paz and Cuscatlan in the country's southeast. WFP and its partners estimate that as many as 30,000 people will need food in the coming months.
The UN has launched a flash appeal with the El Salvador government for more than US$14.7 million. WFP is requesting US$1.7 million to assist people in need of food.