Flood alert in Costa Rica as hundreds flee homes

October 10, 2008

More than 350 people fled their homes and were taking refuge in nine shelters around Costa Rica yesterday after heavy rains on Sunday spilled rivers over and split roads open, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) said yesterday.

With nearly 200 houses and businesses flooded, residents kept dry in churches and centers in Parrita and Garabito, along the central Pacific; Siquirres, on the Caribbean slope; Desamparados, in southern San José; and Oreamuno, in Cartago, east of the capital.

“Our priority is the people in shelters,” said Douglas Salgado, of CNE´s Department of Prevention.

Another urgent situation has developed in Tulin, a Pacific slope region en route from Puriscal to Parrita, where as many as 1,200 people are almost entirely isolated because of flooding and landslides that obstructed their travel, “mainly because of poorly designed roads,” Salgado said.

The CNE issued a red alert for six cantons – Aguirre and Parrita in the Central Pacific, and Paraíso, El Guarco, Oreamuno and Cartago, all in the Cartago region.

“Any rain now in those sectors most affected (Sunday) could produce more flooding and landslides. If it rains, we´re racing to work again,” said Salgado. “We´re getting the population as informed as possible, especially in the areas that repeatedly have problems.”

Along the Caribbean, the Limón province, Guatuso, San Carlos, Los Chiles and Upala are on green alert, the lowest-level preventive emergency warning, while most of the Pacific coast and interior are on yellow alert, the second-level warning to prepare for evacuation.

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