Thank God, the Universe, and Karma that I’m out here on the peninsula and relatively insulated from the landslides and flooding on the mainland.  We’ve had a hell of a lot of rain- it started Sunday afternoon and isn’t likely to quit until tomorrow night- but beyond that our sleepy little backwater is doing okay.  The rest of the country, on the other hand, is suffering.  Thanks to The Tico Times, Daily News for the following:

Escazú Landslide Leaves at Least 20 Dead, 10 Missing; C.R. on Red Alert

Thursday, November 04, 2010 – By Mike McDonald/Katie Onheiber

A series of landslides hit several homes in San Antonio de Escazú early Thursday morning. The first landslide came around 12:30 a.m. Twenty bodies were found, while 10 remain missing.

Rains from Tropical Storm Tomás and a local low pressure system caused devastating floods throughout the country on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Ministry of Education suspended the Social Studies high school exit exam for the entire country…[It] was slated for Friday.  The Ministry also suspended classes for [almost] the whole country …Costa Rica’s executive branch declared Friday and Saturday as days of national mourning in light of the natural disaster.

Emergency trucks are collecting donations in Escazú – rice, beans, canned food, mattresses, sheets and blankets and hygiene products – for victims of the landslides.     …

Rains Force Evacuations, Close Roads

Thursday, November 04, 2010 – By Mike McDonald/Katie Onheiber

The hospital in Quepos, on the Central Pacific Coast, is inaccessible by land due to flooding and landslides and is experiencing problems with its water supply. On Thursday, officials from the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) sent personnel to Quepos to assist with medical needs.

The National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) said that the landslides and torrents have damaged tubing and supply systems across the country, leaving nearly 700,000 people without clean drinking water. Crews from AyA are working to reestablish water service in affected communities.  Meanwhile, the agency is circulating cistern trucks in affected areas, mainly in the Central Valley and along the central Pacific coast.  …


The strong rains also impacted at least 11 highways across the country and collapsed nine bridges.  [Even parts of] the Inter-American highway [are] closed … due to landslides [and flooding] …

Rains Take Out Electricity and Cell Phone Service in Many Areas

Thursday, November 04, 2010 – By Adam Williams

…The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), reported that various hydroelectric plants had been affected by the powerful storms and that [many] communities … would be without power until further notice as repairs are conducted on hydroelectric plants and power lines. ICE reports that 3,710 clients were without power Thursday.

ICE cell phone customers in [some areas] are also without coverage due the storms. As many as 20 radio towers are down throughout the country. ICE said that coverage will be restored as soon as the towers are repaired.

Escazú Landslide Leaves at Least 20 Dead, 10 Missing; C.R. on Red Alert

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2010 – By Mike McDonald

Costa Rica declares national emergency amid lethal storm.

Escazu Landslide

Workers dig to retrieve bodies after a series of landslides hit several homes in San Antonio de Escazú early Thursday morning. The first landslide came around 12:30 a.m. Twenty bodies were found, while 10 remain missing. Katie Onheiber / Tico Times.

A deadly landslide early Thursday morning at Pico Blanco above San Antonio de Escazú, a mountainside suburb west of San José, claimed at least 20 lives, and at press time on Thursday police said that at least 10 people were still missing.

Rescue crews from the National Police, The Costa Rican Red Cross and the National Emergency Commission (CNE), supported by teams of local residents and firefighters, are working to locate the remaining landslide victims. Emergency officials said they are likely buried beneath rock and mud or trapped inside their collapsed homes.

On Thursday afternoon, crews suspended the search due to warnings of more rain. They expect to resume Friday.

On Thursday morning, there was no tally of destroyed homes.

Early Thursday morning, Costa Rica’s central government decreed a red alert – the highest of the country’s three alert levels – for the whole country and declared a national emergency.

Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla said on Thursday that the country’s national emergency fund has “sufficient funds for now” for immediate response to the disaster.  The government is pooling resources available from public institutions to aid in rescue and supply efforts.

Chinchilla said that Costa Rica is requesting “cooperation from ally countries” to aid in relief efforts, especially with aerial assistance. She said that Cost Rica will likely seek aid from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank to help clean up the aftermath and assist with repairs to infrastructure.

So far, the cost of damage from the rain has not been calculated.

Landslide

Tragic Deluge: A landslide early Thursday morning in San Antonio de Escazú claimed at least 20 lives. Rains from Tropical Storm Tomás and a local low pressure system caused devastating rains throughout the country on Wednesday and Thursday.

Katie Onheiber / Tico Times

Residents of San Antonio reported various landslides throughout the night. According to emergency crews, the first landslide occurred at around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday.

In a press conference, Chinchilla said that the environs of Pico Blanco “have been considered risky zones and highly vulnerable to disaster for a long time.”

The Ministry of Education suspended the Social Studies high school exit exam for the entire country. The exam was slated for Friday.

The Ministry also suspended classes for the whole country except along the Caribbean, the northern zone and in the northern parts of Guanacaste, northwest of San José.

Costa Rica’s executive branch declared Friday and Saturday as days of national mourning in light of the natural disaster.

Emergency trucks are collecting donations in Escazú – rice, beans, canned food, mattresses, sheets and blankets and hygiene products – for victims of the landslides (For other ways to help, see box).

The fatal landslide was caused by torrential rains that hammered the country on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

According to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN), 161 millimeters of rain fell on Guachipelín de Escazú on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Guachipelín is the closest IMN measuring station to San Antonio.

The downpours caused damages in 34 of the country’s 81 cantons and forced at least 1,400 people to evacuate their homes. The rains are the result of Tropical storm Tomás, which, on Thursday, was centered roughly 150 miles southeast of Jamaica and was moving toward the north-northwest.

The IMN forecasts that the storm will cause moderate to strong rains across the country through Friday.

The hospital in Quepos, on the Central Pacific Coast, is inaccessible by land due to flooding and landslides and is experiencing problems with its water supply. On Thursday, officials from the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) sent personnel to Quepos to assist with medical needs.

The National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) said that the landslides and torrents have damaged tubing and supply systems across the country, leaving nearly 700,000 people without clean drinking water. Crews from AyA are working to reestablish water service in affected communities.

Meanwhile, the agency is circulating cistern trucks in affected areas, mainly in the Central Valley and along the central Pacific coast.

Residents of Aserrí, a mountain town south of San José, told the Tico Times that they have no running water and that many homes are full of mud and floodwater.

Along the Central Pacific coast, 500 people have been moved to temporary shelters and collapsed bridges have stranded several communities.

Televised news reports on Thursday showed waters rushing down the streets of Parrita, a town on the Central Pacific coast, and pouring into homes. Residents waded through floodwaters to higher ground, carrying family members and pets.

In Santa Cruz de Guanacaste, northwest of San José, 150 people have been evacuated from their homes and are in temporary shelters after the downpours flooded families out of their homes, according to the CNE.

The strong rains also impacted at least 11 highways across the country and collapsed nine bridges.

Heading north from San José toward Guanacaste, the Inter-American highway is closed  at kilometer 85 because of a landslide. The southern portion of the Inter-American Highway is also closed, due to landslides at kilometer 29, outside Cartago, and in the southern zone at kilometers 220, 235, 248 and 250 near Buenos Aires, Vergal, Paso Real, Térraba and Palmar Norte.

The Pocares river has flooded the Costanera highway between Parrita and Quepos in the central Pacific region, and only heavy vehicles are allowed to pass. The Costanera highway is also closed at kilometer 172 between Uvita and Palmar Norte in the southern zone.

North of San José, one lane along the General Cañas highway is closed due to a landslide and a bridge has collapsed between Upala and San Rafael in the northern portion of the province of Alajuela.

Six landslides between Acosta and Puriscal, mountain towns southwest of San José, have forced the narrowing of the highway to one lane.

 

Rains Take Out Electricity and Cell Phone Service in Many Areas

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2010 – By Adam Williams

Damage to hydroelectric plants, power lines and cell phone towers curtails service.

Landslide-18

Katie Onheiber / Tico Times

After Tropical Storm Tomás brought heavy rains and mudslides to Costa Rica, ICE reported that more than 3,000 clients were without power Thursday.

Incessant rains and numerous mudslides throughout the country have resulted in a loss of electricity and cellular phone coverage in several areas of the country.

On Thursday afternoon, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), reported that various hydroelectric plants had been affected by the powerful storms and that the communities of Quepos, Parrita, Pirris, Pejibaye, Pilar, Cajón, Rivas, Ventanas, el Jardín, Ojochal, Huacas, Linda Vista, Cortés, Gallardo, Lajas, Cañales and Salitrales would be without power until further notice as repairs are conducted on hydroelectric plants and power lines. ICE reports that 3,710 clients were without power Thursday.

ICE cell phone customers in Ciudad Cortés, Palmar, Parrita, Quepos, El Llano de Orotina, Los Santos and Escazú are also without coverage due the storms. As many as 20 radio towers are down throughout the country. ICE said that coverage will be restored as soon as the towers are repaired.

 

Rains Force Evacuations, Close Roads

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 – By Mike McDonald

Tropical Storm Tomás will bring more rain throughout the day. The Tico Times has your list of road closures.

Manuel Antonio Road

Heavy rains caused severe damage to roads in Manuel Antonio on Wednesday. Courtesy of Letty Anderson

Heavy rains in Costa Rica on Tuesday night caused flooding and landslides that forced 468 people across the country to evacuate their homes.

Evacuees are spread across 65 communities in six of the country’s seven provinces, but most are concentrated along the Pacific coast, where nearly 400 people are in temporary shelters near Quepos and Parrita, on the Central Pacific coast, and in Santa Cruz, in the northwest province of Guanacaste.

The National Emergency Commission has also moved dozens of other residents in the Central Valley and the country’s northern zone to temporary shelters.

 

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