Tropical Storm Nate: Its Passage Through Central America
By Karol Cordero, CBCP
Marketing Director for Latin America, DRI International
First Harvey, followed by Irma and Maria, and now we meet Nate … the planet is talking to us and we must listen.
What began as a tropical depression affected Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the rest of Central American countries as a tropical storm called Nate, which has advanced to the United States as a Category 1 hurricane causing heavy rains in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Last Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5, Costa Rica received the rain equivalent of a full month in 30 hours, accompanied by winds that left floods, landslides, destruction and death.
Living and working from San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, I knew about the storm because the government decreed red alert and national emergency nationwide since before noon on Wednesday. By this time the strong winds were felt, so I told DRI in the U.S. that I would probably lose electricity and I did. From Wednesday afternoon and for up to almost 24 hours I did not have electricity in my house or workplace, losing communications and my work resources.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the country and mainly the areas of Guanacaste and the Central Pacific, rivers overflowed, lands buried men, women and children in their own houses, and roads were closed by the destruction of bridges and collapses. There were more than 7,000 people evacuated in shelters and many areas of the country were held incommunicado, with people trapped in roads, houses completely damaged, flooded health centers and much more havoc.
Personally I have family in the high risk areas. My sister was held incommunicado from Wednesday until the end of Thursday, she lives very close to the Grande de Térraba river which overflowed, but we could not know about her conditions without communications. My mother, cousins and uncles had to take refuge in the house of other relatives while they saw in the news as their houses were flooded in Perez Zeledón and Quepos. Even today, it is impossible for me to travel to see my family because there is still no road communication to the south, since both the Inter-American Highway and the Coastal Highway are still closed due to lack of bridges, broken streets or landslides.
Thank God my family members are well, but now there are coordination and support tasks for the many families that have lost everything. Families nearby, neighbors and co-workers who today do not have water, food or a place to sleep because the water only gave them time to leave. Costa Rica is a people of solidarity, where “pure life” is lived and it is in these moments when we unite more to help the brothers who have lost everything.
According to UNISDR, in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras there are 22 deaths, and more than 20 are still missing in Costa Rica. In addition, about half a million Costa Ricans are without drinking water.
In the industry, it is important to highlight the impact in the tourism sector, of great importance for the national economy, where they have suffered due to more than 20 flights canceled at international airports and more canceled local flights, road closures, blockades and isolation in tourist areas like coasts and mountains, as well as tourists who have had to stay in shelters or hotels without being able to leave, and even have rescues of tourists in areas such as Cerro Chirripó. We thank www.destinationservices.com for the information provided for this article.
More than 80 closed roads are counted, 3,500 schools with serious damages still do not resume lessons, 2,465 incidents attended by firefighters and 95 shelters that still continue.
Costa Rica must improve its infrastructure and capacity for resilience, the electrical infrastructure for example suffers major breakdowns because it is not yet under ground, the bridges and sewers collapse easily, in the capital huge amounts of waste in the rivers are causing of overflows and floods.
Houses on mountain slopes, lack of coordination in shelters to provide basic services and improvement in the evacuation of people at risk, is part of what we must work to improve our ability to survive these natural disasters. This was “just” a storm, God save us from a hurricane.
Author: Karol Cordero, Marketing Director for Latin America, DRI International.