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Costa Rica: Floods - DREF Plan of Action n° MDRCR019 - Final Report

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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Heavy rains that fell in the Costa Rican Caribbean starting 22 July 2021 caused severe flooding in several areas of the country, mainly in northern and Caribbean regions and in the province of Cartago.

On 22 July 2021, the National Meteorology Institute (INM) reported rains of varying intensity throughout the day over northern and Caribbean regions, increasing in intensity overnight. This activity reached the north and eastern areas of the Valle Central region. Winds of up to 70 km/h were reported in the Pacífico Norte region and slightly weaker winds in Valle Central.

On 23 July 2021, the National Risk Prevention and Emergency Care Commission (CNE) raised the alert status to Red for the cantons of Turrialba, Matina, Limón, Talamanca and Sarapiquí. An Orange Alert remained in place in northern areas and the rest of the Caribbean region, while Valle Central remained under a Yellow alert and Vertiente del Pacífico under a Green Alert. The greatest impact from floods and/or landslides was seen in the cantons of Talamanca, Limón, Siquirres, Guácimo, Pococí and Matina in Limón; Turrialba, Paraíso, Cartago, Oreamuno, Jiménez, Alvarado, and La Unión in Cartago; San José, Alajuelita, Puriscal, Santa Ana and Moravia in San José; Corredores, Quepos and Golfito in Puntarenas; Sarapiquí, Heredia and San Isidro in Heredia; and San Carlos, San Ramón and Guatos in the province of Alajuela.

Families were forced to move in with relatives or to temporary collective centres.

Municipal Emergency Committees (CMEs) reported 2,771 events in 36 cantons – 1,994 related to flooding and 380 related to landslides. In addition, seven highways were damaged: Route 32; Route 10 ParaísoSiquirres; Route 415 Turrialba; Route 230 Pacayas-Turrialba; Route 224 Ujarrás in Paraíso; the 225 along some points of CachíLa Suiza; and Route 36 in Bribrí.

By 25 July 2021, 29 affected municipalities had been reported, as well as 36 collective centres currently open (to assist 1,885 people), 64 sheltered families, 381 sheltered individuals, and 200,000 people exposed to flooding, as follows:

Once the main impact caused by the increased rainfall had passed, food equivalent to one basic basket was delivered daily, as people did not have sufficient income to supplement the basic basket with items such as meat products, cleaning materials, etc.

As the rains decreased and river levels fell, many affected families returned to their homes. They managed to get to their communities little by little despite the state of the badly damaged roads.