National Emergency Commission (CNE) officials downgraded a public alert from “red” to “yellow” in the Caribbean and northern regions of Costa Rica on Friday, following an improvement in weather conditions responsible for flooding that affected several communities over the past week.
The tropical wave that caused heavy rains in the Caribbean and northern regions “began dispersing on Thursday and current conditions are typical of the rainy season,” CNE reported.
A significant decrease in rainfall levels prompted emergency officials to authorize the return home of hundreds of people who were evacuated in shelters, some of them since last weekend.
Flooding and adverse weather conditions forced the opening of 16 shelters in the Caribbean province of Limón, the Cartago canton of Turrialba and in Sarapiquí, Heredia. CNE officials closed all those shelters on Friday following the evacuees’ return home.
Emergency officials evacuated a total of 968 people, who received food and emergency supplies. The last remaining shelter, in Sarapiquí, closed Friday afternoon after all 283 evacuees left the facility.
CNE President Iván Brenes Reyes said that they will maintain regular monitoring and continue evaluations of all affected areas despite the current favorable weather.
The agency on Friday reported that some 4,200 homes in 22 cantons were affected by harsh weather conditions over the past several days. Flooding also damaged at least 500 drinking water sources, including wells and aqueducts.
Government officials are still assessing losses in crops, livestock and other farming activities and will issue a report in the coming days, Brenes said. Earlier this week banana and pineapple producers reported considerable damage caused by the inclement weather. Costa Rica is the world’s single largest pineapple producer and the second largest banana producer behind Ecuador.
On Friday evening the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) forecast intermittent rains for the mountainous areas of both the Caribbean and the northern regions through the weekend.
IMN estimates rainfall levels of 20-40 millimeters over periods ranging from 6 to 12 hours, “which correspond to the normal average rainfall of the country’s rainy season for these regions.”
Experts recommend that residents in the most affected areas remain vigilant as strong gusts up to 70 kilometers per hour are expected in both regions.