San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Storm-Battered Country Gets a ‘Green’ Break

The country is slowly recovering in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Alma and girding for what might come next.

The May 29 storm killed three, destroyed 1,000 homes, left 1,500 homeless, caused roughly $40 million in damage and closed two major highways, including the Inter-American. Particularly hard hit were the Parrita and Pérez Zeledón cantons, where the majority of the destroyed homes were.

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) has since reduced the alert levels for affected communities from red to green, its lowest warning. The agency announced the country is facing another tropical depression, which it is monitoring closely.

“In spite of the calm that is slowly returning to communities in the south, the (commission) is not lowering its guard and is maintaining an intense response operation in the cantons where Alma left a profound footprint,” states a press release.

Communities in 13 cantons – Puriscal, Mora, Turrubares, León Cortés, Acosta, Aserrí, Tarrazú, Dota, Pérez Zeledón, Miramar in Puntarenas, Cañas, Hojancha and Nandayura in Guanacaste – remain cut off from the rest of the country because of road damage. The storm damaged 117 roads and 100 bridges.

Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) spokesman Omar Segura said his agency’s employees continued working feverishly to construct emergency roads to reconnect these communities.

CNE spokesman Reinaldo Carballo said 80 percent of the isolated communities have been reconnected by emergency road construction and repair. He also said most of the temporary homeless residents put up in the roughly 162 shelters created after Alma’s assault have since returned to their properties.

The Guapiles highway to Limón and the

Inter-American Highway

between San José and San Isidro, both closed because of numerous mudslides caused by Alma, have since reopened. Workers reopened the Inter-American Wednesday, but only from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and only one lane in some sections.

Segura said the affected sections of the Inter-American are between the 77-kilometer and 136-km markers. He also said the

Coastal Highway

, which has been bottlenecked with traffic during the almost two weeks the Inter-American was closed, has been reinforced and is now functioning normally. The Parrita and Paquita bridges have been reinforced with stainless steel plates.

In a press conference Wednesday, Fernando Quevedo, Costa Rica’s representative to the International Development Bank, said $200,000 would be donated to help the country recover from Alma’s aftermath.

A Red Cross spokesman said his agency has ceased Alma-related emergency operations.

He said his agency is asking people to step up their donations because the agency’s funds are running low.


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