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Heavy rains send 200 people to shelters around Costa Rica; authorities brace for more

September 27, 2017

An unusually rainy September – and given what a typical September is like in Costa Rica, the phrase “unusually rainy” denotes some serious downpours – continues to pummel communities around the country, causing flooding, landslides, damage to bridges and other problems.

President Luis Guillermo Solís met on Monday with the emergency officials and the mayors of San José, Cartago, La Unión, Oreamuno, Santa Ana, Poás, Aserrí, Acosta and Grecia to coordinate the response to the ongoing rains, which have left many Costa Ricans in shelters.

National Meteorological Institute (IMN) Director Juan Carlos Fallas said at a press conference at Casa Presidencial following this meeting that rains this month have surpassed already September averages by as much as 50 percent – and the month’s not over yet. In Cartago, for example, the city has received its entire September average rainfall in the past five days alone, he added.

Continued intense rain is continued for the coming days, Fallas said, and another tropical wave may begin to affect the country on Thursday evening. Next week, rainfall is expected to reduce somewhat. However, October is the rainiest month of the year in many parts of the country, so dry skies are not in the future anytime soon.

A Yellow (Preventive) Alert is in place for the entire Pacific region, the Northern Zone and the Central Valley. Such an alert indicates that local emergency committees need to prepare to respond to incidents, and residents should be alert to announcements and risks.

Iván Brenes, director of the National Emergency Commission (CNE), said at the Casa Presidencial conference that that the Commission has responded to 546 rain-related incidents around the country since the heaviest rains began on Thursday; 46 cantons have been affected, most in greater San José, and 10 shelters are currently housing nearly 200 people.

Twelve landslides have occurred, Brenes said, and the surrounding areas are being monitored to evaluate additional risks to residents and structures. More than 130 people were evacuated in the face of landslide risks in La Picadera in Santa Ana on Friday, he said.

A landslide in El Poró de Grecia, in Alajuela, moved nearly 60,000 cubic meters of soil and other materials down a hillside on Sunday night, according to a CNE Facebook post. The daily La Nación reported that four horses were killed in the landslide, but no humans were injured, although the avalanche buried a home, warehouse, steel factory and stables.

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