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Costa Rica issues Red Alert for 5 cantons due to flooding, landslides

November 4, 2020

Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) on Wednesday evening issued Red Alerts for five cantons due to flooding and landslides associated with Hurricane Eta.

The Red Alert reads as follows:

“Due to the saturation of the soils, the level of damage and the continuation of the rains during this night and early in the morning, the CNE is raising to Red Alert five cantons: Nicoya, Nandayure, Hojancha de Guanacaste, and Corredores and Coto Brus of the South Pacific.” 

The impact on infrastructure includes damage to fifteen national or local roads, three bridges and the Caño Seco river dam at Ciudad Neily. Some communities are without electricity.

During a red alert, all emergency and humanitarian response teams are activated. This often accompanies an evacuation of the public to shelters and is followed by an evaluation of damage to infrastructure.

Residents of the cantons under a Red Alert should heed instructions from their municipal government, police, firefighters and other first responders.

In coordination with the Red Alert, President Carlos Alvarado announced that “technical-operational personnel have already been mobilized to the most affected areas.”

President Alvarado said Wednesday night that approximately 1,000 people have been evacuated to 30 shelters across Costa Rica’s Pacific regions.

Costa Rica’s Pacific — particularly Guanacaste and the Southern Zone — have experienced heavy rains over the past 48 hours as an indirect effect of Tropical Storm Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday.

Over the past three days, some areas of Guanacaste have doubled their average rainfall for the entire month of November.

Local reports from the cantons under a Red Alert include:

  • The Municipality of Nicoya says it is delivering food rations to heavily impacted communities, but that the process has been slowed by damaged bridges and flooded roads.
  • The Municipality of Hojancha reports “overflowing rivers, collapsed bridges, saturated streams, isolated communities, and many roads obstructed by landslides.”
  • The Municipality of Corredores is evacuating residents to a shelter at Iglesia Manantial de Esperanza.

National Police said Wednesday evening that outlying communities in the canton of Parrita, Puntarenas are “partially flooded.”

At least 69 landslides have been reported across Costa Rica, and 64 communities are experiencing adverse effects related to the weather. Drivers should avoid non-emergency travel through Orange and Red Alert zones, as road conditions are poor.

Rainfall is expected to continue Thursday throughout the Pacific, and through Friday in Guanacaste, according to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN).

Dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency in Costa Rica. English-speaking operators are available.

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