ONE man is missing and more than 1,000 people were displaced this week on the Caribbean slope and in the Northern Zone after the month’s average rainfall for these regions fell in a mere two days, swelling rivers beyond their banks and flooding several communities.
The missing Costa Rican, identified by the Red Cross as Ramiro Madriz, 45, was swept away Sunday when his car was caught in the current of a river in San Isidro de Heredia, northeast of San José.
A silver lining to these clouds, however, was found in the canton of Matina, northeast of the Caribbean port city of Limón, where the storm proved an excellent test for two recently built dikes that successfully protected various communities in the area, according to a statement released by the National Emergency Commission (CNE).
THE dikes, built in a joint project between the CNE and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) that was completed in December and cost ¢500 million, stretch 3.2 kilometers and 2.8 kilometers and protect the communities of Matina and Estrada from overflow from the Barbilla and Chirripó rivers, CNE spokeswoman Rebeca Madrigal told The Tico Times.
“For the CNE and MOPT engineers, this was an excellent test to measure the capacity of the dikes, as the rain this weekend exceeded the monthly average (350 liters per square meter),” the CNE statement said.
In total, 1,145 people were temporarily evacuated to 14 shelters after the CNE declared a yellow alert for the Caribbean and Northern Zone Monday. By Tuesday, nearly all those evacuated were sent back to their homes with five days of rations and a warning that should weather conditions worsen, and the rivers – which had returned to safe levels – rise again, they should immediately come back to the shelters.
IN the Northern Zone, the Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí and Tigre rivers overflowed their banks, forcing hundreds into shelters in Sarapiquí, though they were able to return to their homes Tuesday.
On the Caribbean slope, the Chirripó, Reventazón, Bananito and Sixaola rivers flooded in various areas and inhabitants were evacuated to shelters in Siquirres. They too were allowed to return home Tuesday.
A little more than 100 people remained sheltered until Wednesday in a gymnasium in Bribrí, on the southern Caribbean coast, and in Matina, where emergency workers spent much of Tuesday distributing potable water. Inhabitants were sent home after the yellow alert was lifted Wednesday afternoon.
According to José Juaquín Agüero, assistant meteorologist for the National Meteorology Institute, the heavy rainfall was a result of an arctic-born cold front.