The risk of the Tempisque River swelling and flooding is a possible consequence of Hurricane Otto currently being studied by the National Meteorological Institute (IMN).
IMN meteorologist Luis Fernando Alvarado, of the Department of Climatology and Applied Research, said the likelihood of the river flooding its banks “is very strong,” primarily in the sector by Guardia bridge on Route 21, a border between the cantons of Carrillo and Liberia.
“Due to the amount of rainfall, it’s very likely the Tempisque River will swell and flood its banks in the lower regions, and the potential for flooding is very high,” Alvarado said.
In addition, on Thursday the IMN classified the hurricane as “dangerous,” as winds have reached speeds of 175 km/h.
Liberia mayor Julio Viales Padilla said that if the river swells to the bridge’s girders, transit police will close it to traffic.
“Transit police have informed us (about the situation) and are in agreement that in the moment the water gets close to the girders, traffic on the bridge will be closed,” Viales said.
An Eye on the Dikes
Other Guanacaste cantons that could be affected by flooding are Carrillo and Nicoya, specifically in regions where river tributary swelling and flooding have occurred in the past and where dikes are located today.
In Carrillo, an area at risk of Tempisque River flooding is the dike that partially spans the city of Filadelfia.
Carrillo mayor Carlos Gerardo Cantillo said the canton’s Emergency Committee has shelters on stand-by in case residents would have to be evacuated.
The mayor said Carrillo’s municipality has a budget of ¢15 million to use in emergency situations. Also, the municipal council declared a “red alert” for the canton, which will allow the administration to use more resources if the emergency worsens.
Regarding the Nosara dike, Marco Ávila, president of the Development Association, said that for now, the Nosara River remains low, but if flooding occurs, the areas that will need to be evacuated already are identified.
“We always have an emergency plan for the first areas to be flooded. The most critical sector in terms of flooding includes Barrio Holywood, then La Esperanza and Santa Marta,” Ávila said.
According to the meteorologist, cantons such as Abangares and Tilarán have registered heavy rainfall already, starting last Tuesday.
Reporter Roberto Acuña contributed to this story.