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Disaster Relief For El Salvador

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More than 190 people died and thousands were forced to flee their homes this month when heavy rains accompanying Tropical Storm Ida produced landslides and flooding in parts of El Salvador. When the storm clouds cleared, the United States was quick to provide emergency assistance, part of the nation's commitment to be a good neighbor and aid all those in need.

The U.S. Agency for International Development released $100,000 immediately after the storm so the government of El Salvador could buy local relief supplies, as well as fuel for military helicopters to airlift aid to communities in need and conduct storm damage assessments over affected areas. The next day, USAID flew emergency supplies stockpiled in Miami to El Salvador, including hygiene kits for displaced families, water containers and rolls of plastic sheeting to build temporary roofs and shelters.

The U.S. military also assisted, with the U.S. Southern Command committing $50,000 to finance 5 humanitarian aid projects to support homeless families in the hardest hit communities. A team comprised of aviation, medical, civil affairs and engineering personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Special Operations Command South was immediately sent to El Salvador to assist.

U.S. military helicopters conducted medical evacuation missions, delivered over 350,000 pounds of additional emergency supplies of food and potable water. U.S. military engineers, together with Salvadoran military engineers, are helping to assess reconstruction needs for damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and medical specialists are working with El Salvador's Ministry of Health to determine emergency medical needs.

Fierce storms are a fact of life in the Caribbean region, as evidenced by Ida this year and hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. As with those disasters, which devastated large areas of Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the United States stands with its neighbors in times of need.