Tropical Depression Cristobal, currently moving slowly over Mexico, is expected to gain strength and turn north toward the Gulf Coast by the coming weekend.
The slow-moving system was downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression on Thursday morning.
But Cristobal already has a destructive history. The depression developed out of the remnants of the short-lived Tropical Storm Amanda, which struck El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday. It caused flooding and landslides, killing at least 14. Thousands were evacuated from their homes, and residual flooding and landslides remain a continued risk.
Up to 35 inches of rain are expected in parts of El Salvador and Guatemala, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A long-time partner of Direct Relief’s, the El Salvador-based humanitarian organization FUSAL, reported that “Salvadorans have been in lockdown for more than two months now and many families have not been able to work. This natural catastrophe is aggravating the situation, exponentially putting many lives at greater risk.”
On Thursday, Cristobal, weaker but dangerously slow-moving, was pouring heavy rains onto parts of Mexico, which is expected to see up to 25 inches of rainfall in some areas.
Although it is possible that the storm system will break up, it is more likely that it will head towards the Gulf Coast, possibly making landfall along the Louisiana coast.
FUSAL is currently working to support shelters in El Salvador, which are still housing approximately 7,000 people. Covid-19 was of particular concern for displaced people in congregate shelters, the Pan-American Health Organization reported.
In the United States, Direct Relief is monitoring the storm’s progress and will reach out to partners as needed.
The organization is actively preparing for hurricane season, building Hurricane Preparedness Packs that will be pre-positioned in 18 countries, and in at least 75 U.S. health centers.
Cydney Justman contributed reporting to this story.