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Costa Rica: Red Alert and National Emergency due to Strong Rains

Tropical storm Thomas has seriously affected Costa Rica which has declared a State of National Emergency. The strong rains have caused extensive damage throughout the country: So far 20 people died under a landslide to the west of the Capital of San José, other people are still missing, hundreds have been evacuated and at least 11 roads and highways have been blocked or closed.

Richard Molina writes on his blog [es] summarizing the key points of the national emergency, including the hundreds who were left without water services. He also points out the country's low emergency response capabilities:

Debido a la gravedad de la situación y a la limitación de recursos, la Cruz Roja Costarricense está enfocando sus esfuerzos a la atención de incidentes donde se registra afectación directa de personas.

Due to the seriousness of the situation and the limited resources, the Costarican Red Cross is focusing its efforts to the attention of incidents where direct impact on people has been registered.

President Laura Chinchilla has also requested help from neighboring countries [es], specifically asking for helicopters that might help with rescue efforts and in reaching the communities which have become isolated due to landslides and bridge collapses.

On Youtube, people have already started uploading videos of how they've lived the torrential downpours which soaked the nation during the past couple of days.

FabinSerrano recorded how his neighborhood was flooded by the river in Tejar del Guarco:

RazgrizCr shot through his windshield the flooded streets last night in Heredia, to the north of San José.

Fdelgadoz2000 shows us how the Turrucares bridge over the Virilla River has disappeared:

DecorockCr shows us flooding in Parrita [es], where hundreds of people have been sent to temporary shelters:

Outrage is palpable, as flooding and damages due to rains are a yearly event and the government hasn't been able to foresee or plan ahead to prevent the disruption and loss of lives. On twitter, Marco A. Salazar (@masala777) states:

tantas veces dijeron los expertos que esto podía pasar…. ya van por 20 los muertos… esto quien lo va a explicar?

The experts repeatedly said this could happen… death count is up to 20… who is going to explain all this?

So far there is still confusion as to what can be done to help out and send aid to those in need. The Costa Rican Social Security Institute which is in charge of the hospitals has posted on Facebook [es] explaining what they are doing to help, and also giving ideas of what others can do:

Como parte de las previsiones que se están tomando, el Banco Nacional de Sangre (BNS), alertó sobre la necesidad de que se done sangre tipo O positivo, toda vez que las reservas son escasas. La doctora Erna Meléndez, directora de esa dependencia, solicitó que vayan a donar al BNS, ubicado al costado sur de la iglesia de Zapote.

As part of the precautionary actions, the National Blood Bank has alerted about the need for Type O positive blood, since reserves are very low. Doctor Erna Meléndez, director for this department has requested for donations to go to the center located at the south side of the Zapote church.

Journalist Marianella Cordero [es] has replied to twitter requests to give out information about where donations can be taken, and has written that the Juan XXIII school in San Antonio of Escazú is receiving donations of food, clothes and money, but adds that she would also recommend taking water, since the government's recommendation has been to boil all water due to possible contamination at its sources.

However, official channels for donations have not been sanctioned by the government yet, and through twitter the issue is being echoed everywhere [es]: the media should be informing the population on how to help by relaying which are the bank accounts receiving donations, and where goods are being received.

3 comments

  • Tim

    The US Marines are conducting anti drug efforts and a “humanitarian” mission (we sent a hospital boat to a country with free heatlhcare, really smart, eh?).

    Why arent the US Marine Corps helping Costa Rica? The Marine Corps website promised to help Costa Rica in the event a national emergency occurs while they are conducting their anti drug mission.

    What is the Marine Corps doing NOW to help Costa Rica!?!

  • […] In May, Guatemala was severely affected by an increase in the activity of the Pacaya Volcano and the strong rains from tropical storm Agatha. Heavy rainfall also affected Mexico, causing flooding in the states of Veracruz and Tabasco in September. In November, tropical storm Thomas hit Costa Rica. […]

  • […] A Special Coverage Page was created to gather citizen reports and featured Global Voices stories, like Felipe Cordero’s post on the social inequalities revealed by the earthquake and Silvia Viñas’ report on the indigenous Mapuche community affected by the earthquake. In May, Guatemala was severely affected by an increase in the activity of the Pacaya Volcano and the strong rains from tropical storm Agatha. Heavy rainfall also affected Mexico, causing flooding in the states of Veracruz and Tabasco in September. In November, tropical storm Thomas hit Costa Rica. […]

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