San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

NGO Raises More Roofs for Earthquake Victims

The Chilean non-governmental organization Un Techo para mi País (A Roof for my House) plans to return next week to areas damaged by the Jan. 8 earthquake to build temporary wooden houses for the families left homeless.

Un Techo spokesman Iván Víquez said on Thursday that volunteers were signing up for the next operation, set for Wednesday through Sunday, to construct dozens more homes. Víquez said the building will likely take place in either Poasito or Fraijanes, in the province of Alajuela.

Last weekend, about 100 volunteers and area residents built 15 temporary residences in Poasito.

The magnitude 6.2 quake struck near Poás Volcano, a popular tourist site. The epicenter was located 20 kilometers north of San José. The effects of the earthquake rippled outwards, knocking over homes in its path in Heredia and Alajuela, and killing as many as 30 people. At least 2,200 people were forced to flee damaged villages and sleep on foam mattresses in makeshift shelters in schools, churches, or community halls, or camp out in tents on soccer fields.

A total of 385 people are still in shelters, after some families returned to those homes least damaged, while others have found rentals with help from the state-run Mixed Institute for Social Aid, National Emergency Commission spokeswoman Rebeca Madrigal said. No families remain in the outdoor campsites, she said, and the people sleeping in schools are being moved to other sites as classes start this week.

Víquez said his organization plans to put up more than 200 “techos,” or roofs, for earthquake victims. Each house costs from $1,600 to $1,800, funds that Un Techo raised through private and state donations.

The NGO has previously built 230 such structures in Costa Rica and some 40,000 more across Latin America.

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–Alex Leff


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