Preparation for natural disasters is essential in El Salvador which has significant seismic activity, seven active volcanoes, a coastline vulnerable to hurricanes and tsunamis, and a rainy season that can produce severe flooding and mudslides. In November of 2009, heavy and constant rain over a four day period caused severe flooding and triggered landslides that critically damaged roads, bridges, and houses. Almost 200 people died and 14,000 more were left homeless. In October 2011, 10 days of heavy rains destroyed crops and towns in Central America, hitting El Salvador particularly hard with mudslides and flooding that killed 34 persons and forced 50,000 to seek temporary shelter.
An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale devastated parts of El Salvador in January 2001. A second earthquake in February 2001 measured 6.6 on the Richter scale and caused significant additional damage and loss of life. In total, there were three earthquakes that struck El Salvador in 2001, which resulted in over 1,000 deaths, one million people left homeless, and over 400,000 homes destroyed. In March 2007, an earthquake of 5.6 struck in the northern section of the country, knocking down a number of homes and damaging buildings. Seismic tremors measuring over 5.0 occur on a regular basis, usually causing little damage to the country. It is estimated that there are close to 2,000 tremors that affect El Salvador every year.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additional information in Spanish about earthquakes (sismos) in El Salvadorcan be found on the Government of El Salvador’s web page.