Monday 2 October 2023

Rains and Floods leave mark of their fury in Costa Rica (Photos)

Red alert was declared in five cantons in Costa Rica, Turrialba, Matina, Limón, Talamanca and Sarapiquí, due to the impact of rain; other areas are under orange and yellow alerts. Two people are missing and a total of 606 people are evacuated.

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30 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – In less than 24 hours some parts of the country received more rain than in a whole month. One area hardest hit by the rains is Turrialba, where more than 450 liters per square meter of rain fell in that area, when there the monthly average is around 370 liters per square meter.

The volume of rainfall has been such that the mayor of Turrialba, Luis Fernando León, affirms that the losses suffered in housing, roads, commerce and agriculture have not been seen for 25 years.

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León maintained that the overflow of the Turrialba river, which runs through the center of the central district, had not been recorded since 1996.

He explained that due to the overflow of the tributary, at least three houses that are near the well-known White Bridge or Las Monjas Bridge, were razed.

Evacuations and missing people

Two people are missing and a total of 606 people are evacuated in 14 shelters, due to the rains causing 794 incidents in 33 communities

The Cruz Roja (Red Cross) reported the rescue of 63 people and a total of 113 evacuations of people who were in risk areas.

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Flooded city

Regarding the capacity of the storm sewers in the center of the Turrialba district, León stated that they had channeled the water well for a long time. However, he admitted that the extreme rains exceeded all expectations, as several streams and the Colorado River also overflowed.

The winds

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The saturated soils in a large part of the territory make the most affected cantons very susceptible to landslides and floods. For this reason, half of the territory is under a Red, Orange and Yellow alert.

Eladio Solano, head of the department of the Department of Meteorology at the national weather service, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN), indicated that more than the high pressure system, what affects us the most is the increase in the speed of the winds and their interaction with an intertropical convergence zone positioned over the country.

Water three meters high

In Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, the water reached three meters high, lifeguards using kayaks and rafts to mobilize and rescue people as heavy downpours persist in the area.

Despite the water level and warnings, this resident of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí decided to continue on his way. Photo: Réiner Montero

At some points, the currents reached the tops of tall trees. “We have never seen anything like this and the worst thing is that it continues to rain hard,” said Ana Isabel Jinesta, a resident.

The magnitude of the emergency forced local authorities to “close” access to four points in downtown Puerto Viejo with yellow tape to prevent people from entering those sites.

However, some residents ignored the warning.

In addition to the rescuers, several groups of private companies also joined the operations to help people who are isolated or whose houses were flooded by the Sarapiquí River.

For example, one company provided its inflatable kayaks so that aid teams could navigate the chocolatey waters that washed over the streets of the community.

Routes closed and affected

Ruta 32 (San Jose to Limon) will remain closed until this Saturday, reported by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT).

“Despite the efforts to rehabilitate passage, circulation along Route 32, Zurquí sector, will not be achieved before dark (on Saturday),” the MOPT explained.

In addition, Route 10 (Turrialba) will also remain closed.

“The transit through Vara Blanca, for the moment, is possible for light vehicles, the same for all automobiles through Bajos de Chilamate- Vuelta Kooper,” added the MOPT.

Other routes such as the 230 (Pacayas-Turrialba), 224 (Ujarrás), 2256 (Cachí-La Suiza), and 36 (Bribrí), among others, are either closed or limited passage.

Buses companies paralyze service

Bus companies in Limón and Turrialba suspended the service this Friday due to complications due to the storm affecting those areas.

Floods, road closures and landslides are among the problems that drivers have to circulate, reported the National Chamber of Transport (Canatrans).

“As of Friday, areas such as the La Estrella Valley are completely flooded and the bridge over the La Estrella river is falsified,” the Chamber’s statement indicates.

In Turrialba (Cartago province), the Transtusa company indicated that all transport has been stopped since Thursday night when the passage through the Quebrada Honda sector of Juan Viñas is closed. Similarly, there is no traffic to Siquirres (in Limón) through the Tres Equis sector.

Turrialba volcano eruption

The Turrialba volcano erupted for a minute. The Emanation was detected by seismic devices this Friday at 11:30 am. Bad weather did not allow observing the event, reported the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (Ovsicori).

The bad weather at the Turrialba volcano did not allow the emanation that occurred at 11:30 a.m. Friday to be observed. Photo from the Ovsicori camera.

The scientific entity reported that at the moment the height reached by the column is unknown because the weather conditions prevented any observation.

The eruption was known to reports by the devices installed around the crater, which are directly connected to the instruments that Ovsicori has, in its facilities at the National University (UNA) in Heredia.

Javier Pacheco, a researcher at the Ovsicori, indicated that this was the second eruption of this year in that volcano and that others were not ruled out. The first eruption was on Sunday, June 14, at 12:18 am, when the volcano generated a hydrothermal eruption, which raised a column of ash and gases of approximately 300 meters.

Red Alert

It has been raining since Thursday afternoon. This Saturday morning, the rains continue.

For this, the Comision Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) declared a red alert in five cantons in Costa Rica, Turrialba, Matina, Limón, Talamanca and Sarapiquí, due to the impact of rain.

This measure, which entails evacuation and emergency response, is in force as of this Friday and is due to the strong impact suffered by those cantons due to heavy downpours.

Alert states are maintained in the rest of the regions:

  • Orange alert for the rest of the Caribbean and Northern Zone
  • Yellow alert for the Central Valley
  • Green alert in the regions: North Pacific, Central Pacific, Pacific

An orange alert requires mobilization and containment, while in a yellow alert local committee must prepare to take measures if necessary.

Persistent conditions

The most recent report from the national weather service, Costa Rica will continue the weekend under the influence of the storm, especially the Caribbean region and the northern zone.

Given this, the CNE asked the population “to stay informed, monitor their environment and only abide by the messages that are disseminated by official bodies at the national, regional and municipal levels.”

They also called for families to move to shelters or homes of families if they are at risk.

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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