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Officials Warn of Possible Landslides amid Downpour

July 23, 2010

Strong rain from a tropical wave this week left dozens of homes destroyed and forced nearly 150 people to flee their homes across the Central Valley.

The storm swept across 20 cantons in the Central Valley and along the Pacific coast, collapsing sewer systems and flooding neighborhoods.

In Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José, the torrents and falling trees destroyed 27 houses and damaged an additional 50. In San Pablo de Heredia, 20 homes were flooded.

More than 100 of the evacuees are residents of Heredia.

Emergency officials said the evacuees began to return to their homes Thursday.

According to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN), 90 liters per square meter of rain fell in Barva de Heredia Tuesday night, almost half of July’s monthly average of 210 liters per square meter.

River levels soared by up to 12 meters in Heredia during Tuesday night’s downpour.

Liberia, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, was hit with 68 liters per square meter of rain Tuesday. The city’s average amount for July is 147 liters. Rains also washed out 15 homes in Pérez Zeledón, a canton in the Southern Zone.

Thursday’s deluge has forced the closure of two bridges in Heredia – the Mercedes Norte bridge, 500 meters north of the Palacio de los Deportes, and the bridge that crosses the Río Pirro in Guararí.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) also has narrowed to one lane the bridge between Cinco Esquinas and Tibás, a district north of San José. One side of the two-lane bridge collapsed Tuesday. Crews will begin repairs to the bridge on Friday.

On Thursday, due to the threat of landslides from extremely saturated soil, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) issued a green alert for the Central Pacific, the Central Valley, the Brunca region in southern Costa Rica and Chorotega in Guanacaste, northwest of San José.

The green alert is the first of the three warning levels and the CNE recommends that residents in these areas be cautious of landslides and flooded sewer systems.

–Mike McDonald

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