Intense rains in Costa Rica’s Caribbean, northern regions prompt evacuations

July 7, 2015

Flooding caused by heavy rains in Costa Rica’s northern and Caribbean regions has forced emergency agencies to evacuate a total of 580 people, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported Tuesday. The evacuees have been placed in nine temporary shelters.

The National Meteorological Institute’s (IMN) forecast director Werner Stoltz said Tuesday that tropical waves increased rainy conditions in most of the Limón province as well as in the canton of Sarapiquí, in northern Heredia province, and in Turrialba in Cartago province.

President Luis Guillermo Solís is considering upgrading the alert for these regions from Yellow to Red — the most serious in the country’s three level emergency system. CNE maintains a Green or Preventive Alert for the northern region, as the meteorological institute forecasts that heavy rains will remain in these regions for up to 36 hours.

Preliminary data from local emergency committees in Limón indicate that flooding is currently blocking all access to eight communities in the canton of Matina, eight in Valle La Estrella and one in Central Limón.

Costa Rica’s Water and Sewer Institute reported that flooded rivers have partially damaged aqueducts in Moín and Bananito, two of the most important water sources in Limón. The agency on Tuesday morning outlined an emergency plan for supplying water in trucks if needed.

Residents in Sarapiquí are among the most affected and CNE was forced to reopen two shelters there. Currently one of them is hosting 466 people, while another large group is staying at the Catholic church of La Colonia.

Route 32 reopens

Despite harsh weather conditions on Tuesday morning, no further road closures were necessary, the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) reported. Route 32 to Limón, which was closed Monday by various landslides, reopened at around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Currently the only closed road is Route 415 in Turrialba, as high water levels on the Guayabo River are preventing CONAVI’s crews from proceeding with repair works on the bridge.

A total of 60 Traffic Police officials are monitoring and regulating passage of all vehicles traveling in the affected areas.

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