The Aftermath of Tropical Storm Alma in Costa Rica
( Costaricapages.com ) - Although Alma, the first tropical storm of the season, never made it to hurricane status, she left a trail of disaster behind her, including at least $40 million in damages and losses. Over 19,000 people found themselves affected directly by the storm, over 100 bridges were damaged and 117 roads are impassable. Perez Zeledon and Parrita were the two communities that suffered the most, out of the 372 that were hit, and they are still on red alert today according to Daniel Gallardo, president of the CNE (National Emergency Commission). According to local residents, even Mitch in 1998 didn't leave a trail of desolation like this one.
A reported total of 35 bridges have collapsed, of which 9 have completely fallen down, meaning that isolation is now a severe and serious problem. Rescue teams bringing food, water and medicine have to do so by air. Water and electricity are still not back. About 20,000 people were indirectly affected in Perez Zeledon, while 5,000 were directly affected. Over 1200 dwellings have been damages and at least 50 have been completely destroyed. 45 communities are still isolated, due to broken bridges and landslides, Rivas and Buena Vista being the most noteworthy.
One affected man explained how he saw the river rise and rage, taking away his house faster than he could really comprehend what was happening. All he thought of doing at this point was to gather his family, while he watched all of his material possessions rush away.
The CNE has seven emergency shelters that can house up to 170 people, but that is nowhere near enough. Many have found themselves destitute and are desperately in need of help. In Parrita, 800 persons are still staying in hostels indefinitely. Laura Chinchilla, the vice president of Costa Rica, recently appeared on a television commercial on local channels asking for solidarity among the Costa Rican people and that they donate a little time or money to helping out the victims of this disaster.
It is said that in 3 days, the equivalent to a bit more than half of the amount that falls in san jose during the month of May flooded the country. In San Jose, that is to say, 117 millimeters of rain fell. Ironically, as the weather had been quite dry up to then, the total rainfall for May is still below average.
Meteorologists are predicting more heavy rains and who knows, another "Made in Costa Rica" tropical storm. We are apparently going to get a lot of heavy rain, made in Costa Rica or not, so it is better to be prepared for the worst. One positive side, as there always is, the Northern part of the country, in particular Guanacaste, has found relief with the heavy rainfalls, as the notorious lack of water in the area has been a growing concern for its inhabitants. One good, one bad thing, lets hope we can find the right balance and get prepared for what could be a difficult rainy season.