Rains were intermittent on Thursday night, but at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, Rocío Navarrete got worried. Rains intensified and brought strong winds.
Two hours later, at 4:30 a.m., she heard a neighbor scream her name. They had to abandon the house because the river that runs behind it overflowed. She’s 5’8” and the water was at her knees.
“It was a matter of minutes before the water rose,” she says, emphasizing that what happened didn’t happen in a faraway town. It happened in the center of Nosara in front of the airport.
A year ago, in October 2017, the province was hit by Tropical Storm Nate. The government called that storm the worst natural disaster in the country in decades. But for Rocío, what happened on Thursday and Friday in Nosara was much worse.
“With Nate, the water reached the edge of the fence where I live. I don’t know if it was the same all over Guanacaste, but for me, here in Nosara, it was worse,” she Rocio, a volunteer at the Nosara Integral Development Association.
Rocío doesn’t know how high the water finally rose at her house. She started to collaborate as a volunteer at the main shelter in the district, located in the bull ring on the fairgrounds
Along with other volunteers, they have taken a type of census to quantify how many people need help.
“We have received a lot of donations,” Rocio said. “Clothes, sheets, towels, diapers. We are going to need more help because there are people that lost practically everything, but the community has responded so well that I’m speechless.”
The CNE declared a yellow alert throughout the province on Thursday, October 4, which means that all the local committees are active and ready to respond to emergencies.
In order to help those affected, the municipal emergency committee opened two other shelters at the Santa Teresita community center and in Belén de Nosarita. In total, more than 260 people from Nosara are in shelters, according to Nicoya mayor Adriana Rodríguez.
Emergency institutions are sending mattresses and blankets from Nicoya and Cañas to the coastal community.
Dozens of Rescues
Rocío was able to exit on her own from her flooded house, but other residents needed help from authorities in order to save themselves.
“I saw firefighters rescuing people and others being rescued in Red Cross boats,” the volunteer said.
Ryan Bombard, head of the Nosara firefighters said they rescued more than 80 people between Thursday and Friday.
Nosara Red Cross official Magdalena Avilés said that the rescue missions due to the rain started on THursday night at around 7 p.m. and they continued on Friday.
The most affected communities, according to Avilés, are Santa Marta, San Carlos, Barrio Hollywood and Santa Teresa.
The Rio Nosara river flowed over the dike in two spots because of the rain: Santa Marta and at the airport.
According to Nicoya city engineer Josué Ruiz, the city hasn’t been able to examine the possible damage to infrastructure caused by the rain because water levels are still too high.
Ruiz said that the most affected parts of the dike were damaged in a storm a year ago. But he said repairs are already budgeted for under the Nate intervention plan drafted by the National Emergency Committee (CNE) and the National Water and Irrigation Institute (SENARA).
For Ruiz, the damages in Nosara were worse than damages caused by Nate last year.