Community, Region

Municipality of Santa Cruz promises to inspect an area in Marbella vulnerable to flooding

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The coastal community of Marbella, on the way to Frijolar Beach, undergoes flooding every rainy season that traps them in their homes. At the end of March, 90 signatures were collected and sent to the Municipality of Santa Cruz, along with a request for help from the Marbella Integral Development Association.

A little more than four months later, the residents haven’t received a response or a solution. Their biggest concern is that the rains will intensify in the coming weeks or months and that the strong floods that occur when a creek overflows will happen again. When this happens, they can end up waist-deep in water.

There is a creek that crosses over to the [Tabaco] River. That creek becomes enormous and when it hits the culverts, it acts like a plug and heads for the main street. The water level rises one meter (about three feet). I can’t leave the house, cars can’t pass, nor can the children go to school,” recounted a resident of the community named Juan Cruz.

Cruz bought a lot in the community to build his house three years ago. Alerted by neighbors about the floods, he decided to build it on stilts so that, at least, the water wouldn’t get into his house, but he doesn’t stop worrying and being surprised by the emergency that they experience during every rainy season.

“I have a little boy, one year old, and I look at it as ugly. I really see that amount of water going down the street and I say, ‘wow, I can’t move.’ I have to wait about two hours.”

The Voice of Guanacaste consulted the Municipal Road Management Technical Unit (Spanish acronym: UTGVM) of the Municipality of Santa Cruz about whether or not they would pay attention to the letter from the community. Engineer Welder Bonilla affirmed that they will schedule an inspection next week.

“[We’ll assess] the situation and if said stormwaters compromise any cantonal road, in order to plan a stormwater evacuation project to include in the portfolio of projects managed by the UTGVM,” he replied via email.

Of course, this rainy season doesn’t look good for the residents of Marbella, because according to Bonilla, in the case that they do execute any project, it wouldn’t be until the second semester of 2024.

The Voice also consulted the community representative, Jesse Marín, who responded through a WhatsApp message that the Municipal Emergency Commission has the recommendation to dredge the Tabaco River.

  “And here the same is expected with the neighbors. I imagine logically that they’re going to intervene in the dry season; we hope so, God willing,” he added. But according to the residents, this dredging is not the solution to the problem, which is really in the creeks.

Years of Requests

The letter signed by 90 residents isn’t the first nor the only one that they have sent to the local government. At the end of 2021, a year and a half ago, another neighbor named Maricia Montenegro had sent a note to the mayor, Jorge Alfaro Orias, explaining the problem and requesting collaboration to deal with the emergency.

“I have two minor children. One of them suffers from asthma and every time it rains and my property fills with water, my children can’t go to school since vehicles can’t even enter the property,” wrote Montenegro, who affirms that she never received an answer.

When it rains too much, the water goes out and fills up in a way that’s like a river. I had to build a wall to prevent the water from getting in, because we never received a response from the municipality. And in another house, further on from where I am, they have to put things up,” she told The Voice.

According to the president of the Marbella Integral Development Association, Gerardo Gutiérrez, he spoke with the mayor and the community representative, Jesse Marín.

“[The mayor] agreed to send engineers so that the water from the creek goes towards the river, because the plaza fills up,” he recalled. “Institutions have to be pressured to the maximum, but it shouldn’t be like that. He doesn’t even have the courtesy to answer me,” he complained.

One Problem in Exchange for Another

The causes of the flooding in the community have changed over time. Before, there was a bridge over the creek and the street was gravel. During the rainy season, the creek overflowed and flooded the road. But three years ago, business owners from the community paved the road and replaced the bridge with culverts.

Although the street ended up fine, according to neighbors, the diameter of the culverts is very small. That’s why the course of the water gets blocked when it hits the culverts and it floods the adjoining lands.

Private companies came that had the good will to fix it, but they didn’t have enough materials to put in bigger culverts. They raised the street, but it began to affect several neighbors,” said another neighbor, Yordan Corea.