Responding to Hurricane Ida: An Emergency Communications Mission

By Ingrid Madden

Hurricane Ida has left tragedy and destruction in its wake. The recent passage of the storm triggered dangerous winds, floods and mudslides throughout El Salvador, where the death toll has climbed to over 100 and more than 7,000 families have been left without shelter.

Falling hillsides and rivers bursting their banks have cut off whole regions from the rest of the nation. Over the weekend, a portion of the Chinchontepec volcano collapsed onto the town of Verapaz, burying buildings, houses and entire families.

The acute devastation has prompted the country’s President, Mauricio Funes, to declare a State of Emergency and request urgent aid from countries and agencies around the world.

To assist in the emergency response and rebuilding, a group of telecommunications experts funded by the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership deployed to El Salvador on Monday to provide vital communications services where traditional infrastructure has been badly damaged or destroyed.

The group of experts from the non-profit organization Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) deployed from their Americas base in Managua, Nicaragua to the El Salvadorian capital of San Salvador. The TSF team is establishing secure, satellite-based telecommunications systems. These systems make it possible for local and international aid agencies to coordinate and communicate from the heart of the crisis, where access to traditional phone, radio and internet communications is restricted. 

TSF, which last month deployed to the Philippines, Samoa and Indonesia following a series of natural disasters in the Pacific Ocean, is continuing to track the hurricane’s progression through the Gulf of Mexico where it now threatens the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.


(image credit: Telecoms Sans Frontieres)

* UN Dispatch is supported by the UN Foundation. You can view a full list of past disaster deployments supported by the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership here.