Relief Groups Gear Up to Aid Thousands in El Salvador

International Christian groups are responding to the recent flooding and mudslides in El Salvador that has claimed at least 130 lives so far and left another 60 missing.

El Salvador has been on a state of alert since Thursday after being battered by days of heavy rains. On Sunday, a small town was partly buried after mud and boulders loosened by the rains swept down a volcano.

As hundreds of soldiers, police and residents dig through rock and debris, looking for survivors, aid groups including Lutheran World Relief and Caritas Internationalis are sending funds and staff to the devastated region, where thousands of people were made homeless.

"We're gearing up to respond to the aftermath of the hurricane by sending staff out to the worst-affected sites to look at the damage and limit further risks," reported Wilfredo Ramirez Escobar from Caritas El Salvador on Monday.

"The Government has declared a national emergency and schools and sports buildings have been made available as temporary shelters," he added.

According to The Associated Press, almost 7,000 people saw their homes damaged by landslides or cut off by floodwaters following three days of downpours from a low-pressure system indirectly related to Hurricane Ida, which brushed Mexico's Cancun resort on Sunday before steaming into the Gulf of Mexico.

President Mauricio Funes, who declared a national emergency, said he would work with the United Nations to evaluate the extent of the damage, which he called incalculable.

In a report, Caritas Internationalis also noted that neighboring Nicaragua has also been hit by heavy rains, which have left some 13,000 people homeless. Ida, which the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Monday morning, has been moving through the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to weaken as it heads towards the U.S. coast between Louisiana and Florida.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.