As rains arrive, emergency officials focus on Parrita dike

This is the dike that protects 4,500 homes from the Río Parrita at left. Photo: Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias

Parrita is the central Pacific community perhaps best known for being covered by flooding from the river of the same name.

Every year and sometimes twice in the same year heavy rains hit the central Pacific coast and Parrita Centro and nearby communities are submerged.

In November 2010 nearly three feet of water fell in a few days. In October 2008 Parrita Centro was evacuated when a dike burst flooding 1,500 homes.

Each round of flooding generates more work by emergency officials. Now the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that the river channel needs to be dredged and that more work needs to be done on the dike.

About 4,500 persons in the communities of La Julieta, El INVU, Pueblo Nuevo and Parrita Centro count on the dike to keep the river at bay.

Emergency officials said that one problem is that the canton lacks a plan regulador or master plan, and people have put up dwellings in flood plains.

Emergency officials said they have put up a series of
monitoring stations to keep watch on the river. Another project that is at the bidding stage is a topographical study that will pinpoint places where dredging is needed, said the commission. In the meantime, the commission will try to clean the channel from Ruta 34 to the river mouth.

Also planned is the addition of some 70,000 cubic meters to the existing dike to raise it. There also is a plan to strengthen the dike at places where breeches appeared during Tropical Storm Tomas in November 2010.

The commission said it already had completed three separate projects on the dike.

The nation is entering the rainy season now, and the first taste of problems appeared Monday night and Tuesday in the northern zone where the commission declared a low-level alert. The ríos Cuatro Bocas, Niño, La Muerte and Frío ran out of their banks and flooded some communities. Some 50 homes were flooded in the Canton of Upala, and residents were placed in a public shelter. There were 100 more flood refugees in Cartago Norte and 125 more in Cuatros Bocas. Some 32 persons were being housed in the Escuela Moravia Verde in Guatuso.

The commission said that some damage was reported in the Central Valley in San José, Heredia and Desamparados mostly from blocked storm sewers that flooded. The heaviest rains there were Friday and Sunday.

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