The Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran communities in the Washington area have been collecting cash, new clothes and medicine to help flooding victims in Central America.
Ten days of heavy rains this month destroyed crops and towns. According to the Associated Press, 105 people were killed in the deluge, which topped 60 inches.
Approximately $9,000 has been donated at the Salvadoran consulate in the District, Consul General Celia Medrano said.
The consulate is sending the first of two shipments to El Salvador on Tuesday, she said.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said in a statement over the weekend that the damage has been so devastating that his government plans to seek an extension of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans who are in the United States illegally. Officials also intend to ask the Obama administration to reduce the number of deportations to El Salvador, he said.
Salvadorans are the single largest Hispanic group in the Washington metropolitan area. About 240,000 Salvadorans live in the region, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
“There’s still a lot of need,” said Jorge Granados, president of the Comunidades Transnacionales Salvadorenas Americanas, a group of area Salvadorans who represent different communities of El Salvador. “A lot of people lost their homes and currently don’t have a place to live.”
Granados’s group is partnering with the nonprofit CARECEN and other Hispanic organizations to raise money for the victims of the flooding. They plan to hold a telethon Saturday with Radio El Zol 99.1 FM, Granados said.
“We are fortunate to have a lot more than what our sisters and brothers have in El Salvador,” said Granados, a real estate agent in the Washington area who came to the United States from El Salvador in the 1980s. “Lending a helping hand in this time of need is the humane and Christian thing to do.”
D.C. resident and Salvadoran native Lita Trejo plans to fly to El Salvador on Tuesday with the 20 boxes of donated items that the consulate is sending. She hopes to distribute the goods at shelters in her native Usulutan and other parts of the country that were hardest hit by the rainfall.
“I am preparing myself to see hurt and tragedy,” said Trejo, a case worker at Next Step Public Charter School in the District. “People have lost their homes and crops. It is very sad.”
The torrential rains caused the displacements of thousands of Salvadorans. More than 40,000 remained in shelters over the weekend, according to information provided by the Salvadoran Embassy in Washington. The heavy rains also caused more than 14,000 homes to flood, produced nearly 1,000 landslides and caused seven key bridges to collapse, officials said.
In Honduras, more than 55,000 people were affected and about 6,000 people remained in shelters this week, according to the Honduran Embassy in the District.
Karol Escalante, an embassy spokeswoman, said cereal, milk powder, canned foods, medicine, blankets and clothes for children and adults are being collected at the consulate in Washington and at businesses in Virginia and Maryland.
“There’s been good response from the community in the D.C. area,” she said.