Expat communities largely spared problems from heavy rains

While residents in Pacific expat communities say they have been drenched, most report that they have not faced flooding by this week’s storm.

Heavy rains over multiple days have caused floods, landslides, road closures and evacuations in communities north of the Nicoya peninsula in Guanacaste and in the Osa Peninsula in southern Puntarenas province.

“If it does this for a couple days, they’ll probably have to evacuate people,” said Carlos Yaniz, who owns a real estate company in the Pacific coast town of Nosara in Guanacaste.

While most of the country has stayed comparatively dry, storms drenched the northern and southern Pacific coast areas for hours Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The downpours along the Pacific coast are the result of a low pressure system in the Caribbean, according to a bulletin from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. The bulletin estimates that some areas have been hit by two to four inches of rain.

Reports from the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias indicate that the most badly affected areas were inland communities.

An update from the commission said that mismanagement of garbage in theses areas likely exacerbated the floods by blocking runoff channels.

The commission reported that 34 communities in the canton of Santa Cruz were being flooded by nearby rivers. At least 198 houses were flooded and 495 people were in shelters, according to the report.

Police officials in Santa Cruz also reported that several bridges had been closed in the area because river levels had grown higher than the bridge decks. Additionally, police reported that two buses slid off the roadways, but no one was injured in the incidents.

Expats tend to occupy the coastal towns where they own hotels, real estate brokerages and other tourism related businesses. Residents in these areas reported that rains have been heavy, but so far there have been no damages.
“The last few days it’s been really dumping,” said Shawn Maricle, who is a tour operator and condo manager in Tamarindo.

He has a rain gauge at his home. He said that the gauge collected about five inches per day Wednesday and Thursday. He added that there have been landslides, but so far there have been no damages. A resident with a rain gauge in Nosara reported 9.6 inches fell Wednesday.

However, the meteorological institute reported less than half of an inch of rain on Wednesday and barely more than half of an inch Thursday in Santa Rosa, just west of Tamarindo. Some of the reporting stations in Guanacaste’s most heavily hit areas were out of service Thursday.

Residents in Sámara and Montezuma reported that their towns had also been rained on heavily, but largely spared the flooding of inland towns near rivers.

The commission also said that the rains were heavy and causing floods near the Osa Peninsula.

Tania Harrison, a resident of Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula, said that rains have also been relentless there but that she had not heard of any damages. She explained that the area also has rivers that can get very high, but she has not seen damages or overflowing rivers.

“It’s just been 24 hours of steady rain,” said Ms. Harrison. “The rivers weren’t that high.”

The meteorological institute expects the rain to continue and become stronger Friday according to a forecast published Thursday. The forecast says that some areas on the Pacific coast can expect up to four more inches today.

The emergency commission said that in Guanacaste the Ríos Diriá, Seco and Cañas had flooded Filadelfia in Carrillo, Santa Cecilia, El Guabo, 27 de Abril and La Garúa in Santa Cruz. The Río Andamojo caused flooding in Lagarto, Marbella, Venado, Ostional and San Juanillo.

The Cantón de Osa flooding rivers were the Claro, Caracol and Coto, the commission said.

The weather institute said that similar conditions would continue for the rest of the week into the weekend.

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