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Costa Rica residents return to their homes as rains subside

November 28, 2008

Over 4,600 people returned to their homes this week, while another 1,400 remained in shelters as the flooding and torrential rains subsided in Costa Rica´s Caribbean areas.

An estimated 46,600 people have been affected as strong rains flooded the Caribbean canton of Limón in Costa Rica since the storms began last week, according to the National Emergency Commission (CNE), and 28 bridges have been wiped out, among other damages.

The rains also have pounded western Panama, and landslides closed parts of the Inter-American Highway, cutting off the capital, Panama City, for 48 hours this weekend. Public Works Minister Benjamín Colamarco said the highway would closed “at least until Monday,” as repairs were made, according to the EFE news agency.

The storms have led to the deaths of 10 people in Panama and displaced over 25,000. No deaths have been reported in Costa Rica.

The CNE has lowered its alert level from red to yellow for the Limón and Sarapiquí areas, maintaining the warning level in preparation for a cold front expected to hit the area tomorrow. It has issued a low-level green alert for the Northern Zone and Central Valley.

A team of 48 U.S. aviation and medical personnel and seven helicopters from the Joint Task Force-Bravo, based in Honduras, were dispatched to Costa Rica and Panama this week to work with local authorities in rescue operations. Both countries declared states of emergency and requested aid from the respective U.S. embassies in their countries to work alongside local authorities to help the thousands of displaced residents. The helicopters were used to deliver close to 3,500 food rations to the Sixaola and surrounding communities near the eastern edge of the border with Panama.

On the Pacific side, heavy rains have swollen the Paquita River, sending 50 people from the Quepos area into a shelter.

The Limón province´s November rain level is already at 780 millimeters, more than twice the month´s average of 372 mm, according to Juan Diego Naranjo of the National Meteorological Institute.

 

Tico Times and EFE

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