National Meteorological Institute (IMN) experts predict that Hurricane Otto will reach the northern canton of La Cruz between 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24, prompting local residents to open three shelters for local residents affected by the storm.
Meteorologist Mónica Jiménez said Otto will reach La Cruz as a tropical storm, not a hurricane. However, the storm is expected to be accompanied by strong winds exceeding 100 kilometers per hour.
Jiménez said that no flooding currently has been forecast for Guanacaste, but by tomorrow, as Otto moves to the Pacific it will bring heavy rains along the entire coast, especially in peninsular territories including Cóbano, Lepando and Paquera.
The National Emergency Commission declared a red alert for the entire province and called on all tourism businesses to suspend all adventure and outdoor activities.
Emergency officials in La Cruz have opened three shelters. One is located at La Cruz Experimental Bilingual High School, and has provided mattresses and food for some 800 migrants.
Communities including Soley, Cuajiniquil, El Jobo, Bello Horizonte, San Dimas, Las Vueltas, Barrio Irvin and the marginalized area, Tempatal, Salinas, Cangrejal, Las Vegas, Aguas Muertas, Poza Redonda, Chombo and the Juan Santamaría settlement have been relocated to the Night High School.
La Cruz residents prepare for Otto by boarding up windows with wood and zinc. Photos by Danilo Brenes
Red Cross responder and shelter coordinator José Alemán said officials are assisting 170 people at the facilities, but they expect three more buses of people will arrive shortly.
Many have come to the shelter voluntarily in their own vehicles. Wálter Peña, from the community of Jobo, reached the shelter in his own auto accompanied by his two children.
“We were debating whether nor not to come because we were afraid to leave an empty house that someone could burglarize. But the truth is I wanted to protect my children,” Peña said.
The third shelter is located at Barrio Irvin School for residents of the Irvin 2 community. According to Patricia Pineda, a volunteer at the shelter, 52 families have arrived with 85 children and 50 adults, mostly from poor areas.
In the city of La Cruz, both public institutions and businesses have closed, while neighbors continue boarding up windows in their homes, where they plan to ride out the storm.