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'This whole area was flooded out'

Families flooded out in El Salvador
The floods forced thousands of families to evacuate their homes

Scott Elberger is a US physician volunteering in El Salvador who is now giving medical aid to refugees from the floods that have devastated the country.

About 7,000 people in El Salvador are living in shelters after floods and mudslides destroyed homes and villages.

President Mauricio Funes has declared a national emergency as a result of the disaster which has left large parts of the country without electricity or clean water and cut off from government aid.


We are in a refugee camp of 700 people, in the area of San Pedro Masahuat, south of San Salvador.

The camp has been set up in a school that has been closed down.

There are people sleeping on the floor, sleeping in hammocks. And there are a lot of children here.

Mudslides and downed bridges have made it impossible to travel
Scott Elderberg,

Paediatricians for Central America's Children


There is a pump for water and women are using a local well for bathing.

Everybody here seems okay. But there is a very dense number of people packed into a very small area.

These are people who were evacuated - they knew the writing was on the wall and that things were only going to get worse.

Mudslides

We (Paediatricians for Central America's Children) are a group of doctors, nurses and lay people who are here on a medical mission.

Our intent was to go to the Eastern part of El Salvador yesterday but our ability to travel has been hampered by mudslides and downed bridges that have made it impossible to travel.

Families flooded out in El Salvador
Thousands have been living in shelters since the floods

So instead this morning we came here from San Salvador to give medical aid at the request of the First Lady of El Salvador.

On the way here we saw some mudslides on the major roads. As we came south towards the coast it is definitely much wetter here.

South of San Salvador was hit very hard by the floods. While everyone else seems to be concentrated on the San Vicente area, we have come here.

The rains have been pouring in a monsoon-like way for the last two days.

This whole area was flooded out and people had to leave their homes.

And the area east of here was really badly flooded - Zacatecoluca. That's where we think most of these refugees have come from.

Disease potential

We set up our clinic in a communal area of the school - with a corrugated iron roof over us.

There is a lot of standing water around, after the floods, so there is potential for a dengue fever epidemic
Scott Elderberg,

Paediatricians for Central America's Children

We're using desks and benches to put out whatever things we can to help people.

Initially we will only able to see acute patients - diarrhoea, injuries, upper respiratory infections, and possibly dengue fever.

There is a lot of standing water around, after the floods, so there is potential for an epidemic.

The people with significant traumatic injuries have already been triaged out to the local hospital.

What we are treating is those who have become sick since they were evacuated.

I'm told there are multiple refugee camps scattered across El Salvador like this right now.

And now that the government has declared a national emergency USAID will be able to start distributing help.



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