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Baptist congregation in El Salvador devastated by Idacomment (0)

November 19, 2009

Though Ida had slowed to a tropical storm before she made landfall in Alabama on Nov. 10, she was a full-force hurricane when she bombarded El Salvador with rain just days earlier.

And in the aftermath were death and devastation — including a painful scene at a Baptist church.

Nine members of First Baptist Church in San Vicente — seven children and two adults — died as a result of the storm. A memorial service was held Nov. 12 for the children, who drowned in a flash flood.

Many members of First, San Vicente, lost their homes to mudslides and some are taking refuge inside the church building, according to Vicki Brown, whose husband, Calvin, is director of missions for Concord Baptist Association in Jefferson City, Mo. The association has an ongoing partnership with Baptists in El Salvador.

The church is in an area in central El Salvador hit particularly hard by heavy rain during the night between Nov. 7 and 8. Government officials said more than 125 people were killed and at least 70 were missing because of mudslides and floods in the country of around 6 million.

“We are mourning because today, once again, the rain has provoked desolation and death,” Gloria Cabrera de Rivera, former president of the Baptist Women’s Union of Latin America, wrote in an e-mail to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

Christian relief organizations geared up to respond to the needs of about 13,000 people who saw their homes damaged by landslides or cut off by flood waters in the tiny country. About the size of Massachusetts, El Salvador is located on the Pacific coast of Central America.

Sonia Valiente, president of the Baptist Association of El Salvador, said there is an urgent need for food, clean water and other supplies like mattresses. Cabrera de Rivera said there is also great need for clothing and shelter.

Neville Callam, the BWA’s general secretary, expressed condolences and offered prayers on behalf of the global Baptist community. He said the global Baptist organization’s relief and development arm, Baptist World Aid, “stands ready to offer any assistance” it can.

Although Hurricane Ida did not hit El Salvador directly, the rain-creating weather system associated with the storm caused three days of heavy precipitation, including 14 inches of rain in one four-hour period. An estimated 1,800 homes were damaged or destroyed by rain-caused mudslides and rockslides from the volcano Chinchontepec.

“The coastal zone on the Pacific side and places bordering have been flattened,” Cabrera de Rivera reported. “The volcanic mudslides have flattened anything that they have come in contact with and carried away human lives, houses and anything that existed.” (ABP, TAB)

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