April 20, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Peace Corps Volunteer Karen de Groot writes about Living through the Salvador quake

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : The Peace Corps in El Salvador: April 20, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Peace Corps Volunteer Karen de Groot writes about Living through the Salvador quake

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 11:03 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Karen de Groot writes about Living through the Salvador quake

Peace Corps Volunteer Karen de Groot writes about Living through the Salvador quake

Living through the Salvador quake

Karen de Groot

We were inside my house when the first earthquake struck on January 13th. A few neighborhood kids and I had been playing on the back porch, calmly and contentedly, when in an instant, the earth began to move violently… back and forth, up and down…the movement initiated a locust-like rattle sound from the houses. We made our way into the street, the panic from neighbors taking shape and form in every which way. Looking out north towards the mountains of Honduras, we saw a huge cloud of dust coming up from the lake, a volcanic crater at the base of many hills, upon which lies the village, Calderitas, where I live and work as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Although the community finished a potable water project three years ago, the lake has served as a place for women to wash clothes, families to bathe and fish, and for kids to have a bit of fun in their free time. Although no one in the community lost their home in the first earthquake, it was evident to us all that there had been a landslide down by the lake. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Women and children emerged rapidly from the lake, dodging falling trees, splitting earth, and a cloud of suffocating dust to finally make their way up and out of the crater. The greatest damage done in the community was due to the landslide. The water tank that serves the 130 families in the community was completely covered by several meters of earth, large boulders, and fallen trees. Due to the tremors we continue to experience, the people are advised not to go to the lake to wash their clothes…or to any other of the natural spring area…as there is a risk of another large earthquake.

Approximately four weeks after the earthquake, the community divided into work groups to try and begin excavating the water tank to see the damage that had been done. After the first week of digging and of finding only pieces to the water tank, it was evident that the tank had been destroyed. At this time, families were still able to receive small amounts of water every two days due to the natural daily rise and fall of water levels. While community members continued to work, we were hit, yet again, by another large earthquake on February 13th. There was another landslide. Amazingly, no one was injured. Yet, there was additional damage done to the motor, one consequence of which was, and is, the complete lack of water in the community.

We now have had up to three major earthquakes here in El Salvador in less than two months. COEN, The National Committee of Emergency, has reported a total of 1,120 deaths, 7,438 persons wounded, and 1,452,608 persons with damaged or uninhabitable houses from the first two earthquakes. Calderitas pertains to the Municipality of San Esteban Catarina, just one of the many towns that was completely destroyed in the Department of San Vicente. Living only 5 kilometers away from San Esteban Catarina, we were fortunate not to experience such devastation: no one was killed and no one lost his or her home here. We are not in need of food or clothes. We are, however, in need of water and must begin to rebuild. Currently, we depend on outside water trucks but this is costly and unsustainable. We wish to fix our water system and would appreciate any support you are able to give. If you are unable to support financially, please pass this information to someone else and support us always in your prayers. (General donations for Salvadoran relief can be sent to: Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore MD 21203-7090, or by calling 800-736-3467.)

Karen de Groot is a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador; her home is in Manteca. Donations to her village may be sent to: El Salvador Earthquake Relief Fund, Acct #22167431, Delta Nat’l Bank, 611 N. Main St., Manteca, CA 95336.

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Story Source: Personal Web Page

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - El Salvador; Disaster Relief



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