The canicula is over and rainy season has resumed. As you likely saw on the news, lahars are coming down the side of Fuego again. From Monday to Tuesday last week, the back route through riverbeds into otherwise cutoff communities was destroyed in three different places. The only way to get to the villages served by Vamos Adelante was via Siquinala, where big machines were able to temporarily fix the riverbed crossing until more rain and hail surprised everybody a few hours later. Experts anticipate more big lahars will come down with the heavy rains expected. August and September are the months with the strongest rain in this region. In October, some storms will likely pass through, but then it should hopefully calm down and Vamos Adelante will be able to resume normal activities.
The Vamos Adelante base in Zapote remains closed until the situation with the volcano improves and it is safe to cross the rivers again. For now, the Project is carrying on with typical activities at the new, temporary office in Ceylan. Two Vamos Adelante education promoters continue visiting the shelters in Escuintla to see how the project can help families and also see students who have Vamos Adelante scholarships and now live in the shelters.
The construction on the big road between Antigua and Escuintla continues and rapid progress is being made rebuilding the bridge. It appears that the main highway (Ruta Nacional 14) between Alotenango and Escuintla will be opened to light traffic tomorrow, on August 14, 2018, during hours when it is not raining. Two metal bridges have been built where the Las Lajas bridge once was before being totally destroyed on June 3rd (and made famous by a video of it being taken out during the eruption that was widely circulated on the web).
Survivors of the disaster continue looking for their missing family members in San Miguel Los Lotes, but the government gives very limited permission. Some are protesting this, saying they will block the road if they are not allowed to continue searching. Hopefully a peaceful solution will be found.
Two weeks ago people from San Miguel Los Lotes were moved from schools and other quickly-improvised living spaces to temporary wooden structures in Escuintla. Each structure hosts up to 4 families and each family has 18 square meters. Beds, a table, some chairs, and water filter are included/provided with the structure. The wooden structures look fine and people are happy and thankful to have some privacy. The ventilation is a bit limited in the houses and it gets very warm. The bathrooms and facilities for doing laundry are communal. A common kitchen area will hopefully be built so that the families can cook for themselves.
Vamos Adelante is handing out basic kitchen kits to the families from Zone Zero. The centralized solar light system in the temporary housing is good but not individually controlled, so Vamos Adelante will purchase 200 solar lamps to distribute to these families. Supposedly 1,000 permanent houses are still in the plans to be built, and the the San Miguel Los Lotes and the El Barrio people will be prioritized in their assignment. When the construction will start is not yet known as there has been continued trouble with price quotations for building materials by several companies.
What will happen to all the others who remain in the shelters from evacuated high risk areas is uncertain. Most likely, they will be left with no option but to return to their villages despite the risk, though no official statement has been made.
In Ceylan, Vamos Adelante has resumed it’s lunch program, providing warm meals five times per week to 150 individuals using the kitchen set up by World Central Kitchen.
The crops were almost entirely destroyed throughout Ceylan. Food prices have already gone up, so the people will try to plant corn in the middle of August, taking their chances that it will not be destroyed again by continuing activity from the volcano and rain storms. It takes about a good month for the corn to grow, but most think it seems better to try than not to have anything at all. Vamos Adelante will help purchase seeds as some families cannot afford to. To avoid a food shortage, in the short-term it is likely Vamos Adelante will need to also supplement food supplies in this region by purchasing corn and beans for consumption.
Thank you for your continued care and concern for the well-being of those affected by Fuego’s eruption.