Government census will tell full extent of storm disaster

As better weather allows emergency officials to view the results of four days of heavy rain, what they see is not encouraging.

Fire trucks at Juan Santamaría airport salute a vintage C-47 carrying 25 Guatemalan rescue experts as it departs after the visitors participated in a search for victims at Calle Lajas in San Antonio de Escazú and formed part of an air bridge that brought supplies to the southern part of the country that remains cut off to vehicle traffic due to the four days of storms. Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguirdad Pública

Quepos sent out a special report Tuesday telling potential visitors that the old gravel road between the two communities is operational even though the main highway remains cut.

A list of the state of the roads is at the Policía de TránsitoWeb site.

So far, Casa Presidencial said that 500 million colons or nearly $1 million has been spent on reestablishing traffic on roads and bridges so communities can communicate.

Cruz Roja workers, many of them volunteers, sort supplies that the public had dropped off at one of the many collection points. Photo: Cruz Roja

The emergency commission has spent 109 million colons, about $212,000, just in getting food, water and basic humanitarian aid to the affected populations. Workers delivered 18,000 liters of water so far. The Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the water company, is running continuous tanker routes to communities affected by the massive outage.

The accounting of damage does not yet include the houses that were destroyed, some of them simply swept away by raging water. That happened above Aserrí, in parts of the southern zone, in Alajuelita and Parrita and in the Canton de Osa.

About 4,900 individuals who were sheltered during the storms have returned to their homes, said Casa Presidencial. About 2,900 remain in shelters.

The national emergency commission said that there have been no reports of lawlessness at any of the shelters. Some 30 shelters have been closed and 56 remain open.

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said Tuesday that the central government is preparing a census of damage so officials can be precise in learning the extent of the disaster. She ordered that four more cantons be included in the original list of 34 that suffered heavy damage and are covered by an emergency decree. They are Grecia, Alvarado, Ojancha and Esparza.

The disaster promises to be a budget buster. Officials report that nine bridges are out, but that only counts bridges on national highways. In the mountains and in rural areas, high rivers ripped away many bridges, leaving some towns without access to the rest of the country. Bridges on canton routes were destroyed in Cervantes de Cartago, Aserrí-Salitrillos-Jerecó, Garabito-Quegrada Ganado, El Rodeo-Ciudad Colón and Pérez Zeledón at Calle Alvarado.

At least 18 national highways are still blocked by landslides or other problems, according to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. That includes the Interamerican Sur, which is blocked between Palmar Norte and Paso Real. Tourism operators in Manuel Antonio and

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