San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Ida’ Downgraded to Tropical Storm

Five hours after making landfall Thursday morning in Nicaragua’s South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), hurricane “Ida” was downgraded from a Category 1 tempest to a tropical depression shortly after noon yesterday.

The storm, which only reached hurricane- force winds for about six hours Thursday morning, still managed to cause considerable material damage in the remote Caribbean communities of Laguna de Perlas and Sandy Bay Sirpe, 100 kilometers north of Bluefields, the regional capital of the RAAS.

Preliminary reports from Civil Defense officials suggested the roofs of many ramshackle homes were ripped off by the winds, which also snapped trees and downed power lines. Flooding in the river communities of Prinzapolka and Río Grande was reported and some 3,500 people were evacuated, including many residents of CornIsland.

At press time Thursday afternoon, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported, and Nicaraguan authorities said the worst of the storm appeared to be over.

However, some of the more rural communities were still incommunicados after winds knocked out several radio antennae used to communicate with the rural population.

Though Ida never made it past a category 1 storm, with winds of up to 120 km per hour, it was a very slow-moving storm, giving it time to inflict considerable damage where it made landfall, as well as at some of the offshore cays.

Civil Defense said it has some 850 troops in the region and would helicopter more support and food aid into Bluefields on Friday morning, when the winds calm enough to allow air travel.

In Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Red Cross and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) maintained yellow alert levels for several regions on Thursday afternoon, just hours after Ida swept ashore in Nicaragua.

The alert was expected to be in effect for the entire Pacific coast, the Central Valley and several counties in the northern zone, at least through Friday morning.

The center of the storm did not touch Costa Rica, but the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) reported that the system had a significant indirect impact on Costa Rica in the form of heavy rains.

Meteorologists said that excessive water caused some rivers to rise in the northern Pacific region of the country, but no serious flooding has been reported.

According to CNE, the extra rain provoked the collapse of a sewer in Cartago, as well as small landslides in Guararí de Heredia, north of San José. Three homes were affected and five families were evacuated there.

No mandatory evacuations were issued, and IMN meteorologists said Thursday the worst of the storm was over.


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