Heavy rains, flooding evict more than 500

The canton of Sarapiquí bore the brunt of the unexpected mid-December storms. But problems also were reported Tuesday in the cantons of Guácimo, Matina y Pococí.

One man died when his vehicle left the road in heavy rain and plunged several hundred feet. The impact was so great that the vehicle broke up into large pieces. That was in Vera Blanca near Cinchona north of Heredia. Another person was reported missing in the Río Sarapiquí, said the Cruz Roja.

At least four communities were cut off and in others water was knee high, waist high and in some cases reaching the eaves of homes. The Cruz Roja sent 125 workers into the field to help with evacuations and to provide needed supplies.

The national emergency commission said that there were 544 personas displaced in the communities of Naranjales I and II, Flaminia, Caño Negro, El Tigre and Chilamate. The Cruz Roja said its workers counted 650 persons in public shelters.

The weather emergency is being blamed on low pressure systems that brought unseasonable rains mostly to the Caribbean, the northern zone and the Central Valley. The same is predicted for today, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. Some afternoon downpours were even predicted for the Pacific coast.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias called a meeting Tuesday afternoon because of predictions of more rain through Thursday. Aid workers said that one problem was that individuals in the affected area were declining to leave their homes for fear of robberies.

The commission called on storm victims to consider their own lives and move to shelters.

Rescue teams were using boats to reach stranded residents.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that work was underway to reopen Ruta 126 about a kilometer south of the La Paz Waterfall.

There were at least four landslides there blocking traffic in the vicinity of Vera Blanca and San Miguel.

The Río Sarapiquí also has flooded out of its banks blocking the same highway, the ministry said. The work could be done quicker if the weather cooperated, it added.

The emergency commission issued a yellow alert for the canton of Sarapiquí and the Caribbean as well as a precautionary green alert for the northern zone.

The Río Reventazón at the communities of Hamburgo and Islona was running out of its banks, and the community San Martín de Freeman was being flooded by the Río Madre de Dios, said the commission.

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