SAN VICENTE, El Salvador — First Baptist Church, San Vicente, El Salvador, lost seven children and two adults in a flash flood that ripped through the town when Hurricane Ida swept across Nicaragua on Nov. 9.
Flooding and mudslides destroyed several homes throughout
the entire San Vicente region, including the house where a mission church had been meeting.
According to news reports in El Salvador, the death toll has climbed to at least 200, with an estimated 14,000 people displaced. Reports indicate that part of the Chinchontepec volcano in the San Vicente region collapsed, burying the town of Verapaz in mud.
A nearby river rose to within two blocks of the church, according to Mauricio Vargas, multicultural specialist for Concord Baptist Association, Jefferson City, and a native of the Central American country.
Vargas, who also heads the Missouri Baptist Convention’s partnership with El Salvador, and MBC executive director David Tolliver were able to get into the San Vicente region and town on Nov. 12. The pair had arrived in El Salvador on Nov. 9 for a weeklong trip that had been planned several months in advance.
Washed-out roads, mud and rock prevented them from getting to San Vicente earlier in the week. The home that housed the first mission that the church had birthed in the region was swept away by floodwaters. Vargas translated for Tolliver, who spoke at a memorial service Nov. 12 on the home’s foundation.
Church families have opened their homes to other families whose houses were destroyed. First Baptist has been providing food, water, mattresses and other supplies, Vargas said.
Concord association and Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, assisted in establishing the mission. The association has worked with Salvadorian Baptists since 2003, and the MBC is in the second year of a partnership that was recently extended through 2011.
Several churches and associations that have ministered in the Central American country have sent funds for needed supplies. The MBC has not yet determined its response to the devastation in El Salvador. Partnership specialist Rick Hedger was to return from a mission trip to Senegal, West Africa, on Nov. 16.