Americans Aid Salvadoran Flood Victims
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2009 American personnel based in Central America are deploying to aid flood victims in El Salvador, U.S. Southern Command officials said today.
A total of 37 Joint Task Force Bravo personnel left Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, yesterday to aid assessment efforts in El Salvador, where torrential rains have caused mudslides and flooding.
One mudslide killed 124 people in a village 30 miles outside the capital of San Salvador.
The task force personnel are bringing four helicopters – an HH-60, a CH-47 and two UH-60s – and a command and control package. They will meet up with a team of U.S. Army engineers to conduct damage assessments in the area.
Southern Command officials are working closely with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, said Southern Command spokesman Jose Ruiz. Though American assistance has not formally been requested, the deployment is “under the commander’s authority to save life and limb,” Ruiz said.
“Joint Task Force Bravo will play a critical role by providing air capability to the damage-assessment team,” said the mission commander, Army Lt. Col. Curtis Anderson. “With help from our helicopters, the assessment team will be able to get a broad, bird’s-eye view of the damage done by the recent storm.”
El Salvador declared a state of emergency Nov. 9 as rain storms ahead of Hurricane Ida had saturated the Central American country. In addition to the deaths, thousands of people are homeless and seeking shelter in Nicaragua, Mexico and other areas in El Salvador.