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Are we Ready for Heavy Winter Rains?
• CNE Prepares Emergency Supplies and Conavi Works on Bridges around Nosara and Samara
• Proposed Dike for Nosara Won't Happen this Year

By Arianna McKinney

Puente Torito

Last year's rains were destructive, leaving some communities cut off when bridges collapsed and unfortunate families seeking shelter elsewhere as their homes flooded. Since then, various groups have been examining needs to better prepare communities for the next round of heavy rains.

As always, some projects have been stalled for various reasons, and with rains arriving early this year, the question arises: Are we ready?

The Weather Forecast for 2011
Luis Alvarado, Meteorologist with the Instituto Meteorologico Nacional (National Meteorological Institute), explained that in general the forecast for 2011 is an early start for the rainy season and about 20% less rain than last year due to the La Niña cooling phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean and excessive warming of the waters in the Atlantic Ocean (hotter in 2010 than in the past 150 years, according to the Climatic Projection prepared by the IMN). Even though the forecast calls for less rain than last year, the rainfall is still expected to be above average.

In the northern Pacific region, rainy season normally begins between May 16 and 20. This year, the season started during the first few days of May, a couple of weeks early.


The State of the Bridges
After the bridge in El Torito between Carrillo and Samara and the bridge over Rio Frio en route to Nosara collapsed last November 2010, several bridge repair and replacement projects have been undertaken. According to Conavi engineer Miguel Arroyo, several key bridges will be done in time for winter: the bridge over Rio Rosario which provides access to San Juanillo, a new 55-meter bridge to connect Marbella and San Juanillo and a Bailey bridge to replace the bridge over Buena Vista River next to Bar Las Vegas on the way into Samara, which collapsed in March 2011.

Arroyo explained that Bailey bridges, though sometimes perceived as temporary structures, offer a good structure that can remain in place up to 20 years with no problem. The bridge can sustain 40 tons with a margin of security to support overweight vehicles.

Repairs have also been made to a bridge in Carrillo, but the one bridge that is still needed to ensure access to Nosara in the worst of winter is the promised bridge over the Montaña river. Marco Rojas, director of roadway conservation for Conavi, explained that the crossing requires a length of about 90 meters (more than 270 feet) for which two bridges will be used. One bridge of 60 meters has already been purchased and they are in the process of buying a 33-meter bridge. "I hope to be able to place them this year," he said.

Work progresses on installation of a Bailey bridge over Rio Buena Vista entering Samara.


Another community anxiously awaiting a bridge is Buena Vista near Samara. The community was cut off in November when the hanging foot bridge fell. Although the construction of a new bridge has been approved, the project was delayed because the bridge didn't have a code assigned to it, but once that issue is cleared up, Luis Acosta, president of the Samara Association of Development, said that money has been set aside for the project. They also hope to build a bridge for vehicles, but first a ground study and a biological study need to be performed.

Emergency Supplies, the Nosara Dike Proposal and Other Preparations
"The experience of the past year in Nosara was very important for us," reflected Mario William Acosta Cortez, coordinator of the National Committee of Emergencies for Nicoya. "In Samara we haven't had large situations in which we need to shelter people like in Nosara."

Based on lessons learned from last year, CNE has been equipping sheds in Nosara and Nicoya with provisions like foam mattresses, blankets and food, identifying shelters and activating local emergency committees in Nosara and Samara in preparation for another strong winter.

However, one major project proposed in preparation for winter definitely will not happen this year. The proposed Nosara dike project, estimated to cost over $3 million has been put on hold due to concerns about how the project might affect the environment and mangroves. An environmental study is being performed, but Marcos Avila, president of the Nosara Development Association, affirmed that money will not be invested in the Nosara River this year, neither with the dike project or with dredging the river. In the meantime, focus is on prevention, coordinating with the emergencies committee.


The bridge over river Frio, on the way to Nosara, collapsed in November 2010 during the tropical storm Thomas. There is one new bridge.

The Samara Development Association is looking into other projects to prepare for winter, such as building retention walls for the Buena Vista cemetery to prevent water from flooding the area, finishing a bridge to Chinampas and fixing a yellow stone bridge in Panama of Barco Quebrado and a water tank for San Fernando.

"We'll see if we can achieve these projects," Acosta from CNE said. "We have to wait with patience with the laws of this country to do the projects that we have."

While community leaders tackle red tape and consider available funds, winter is upon us and time is running out to prepare for whatever difficulties this year's rains might bring.


More Regional News

Samara community and police hope to organize to improve security

About 60 people met in Samara’s community hall on Thursday, June 23, with Mayor Marcos Jimenez and police officials Angel Araya Cordero, director of police for Guanacaste, and Dennis Garcia, in charge of the police’s community security program for the canton of Nicoya. Their aim was to air concerns and look for viable ways to improve security in Samara.

Woman Died Falling into a Creek

About 60 people met in Samara’s community hall on Thursday, June 23, with Mayor Marcos Jimenez and police officials Angel Araya Cordero, director of police for Guanacaste, and Dennis Garcia, in charge of the police’s community security program for the canton of Nicoya. Their aim was to air concerns and look for viable ways to improve security in Samara.

Samareños will march asking to continue with peace and tranquility

Members of the community of Samara agreed to perform a march this Sunday, the 19th, starting at 11 a.m., leaving from the Catholic church, marching around the front of the Evangelical church, the school and ending in front of the Public Force.

Nosareños Threats to Close the Main Road

Tired of waiting for the government to respond to their demands, the Nosareños patience seems to have come to an end. At a meeting held on Saturday June 11, several members of the community agreed to step up pressure if President Laura Chinchilla doesn’t take action and respond to a letter that will detail the most urgent problems that concern the people of this area.

Machinery Arrives in Nosara to Provide Road Maintenance

Roadworking equipment arrived this past Friday June 10th  to begin repairing the 30 km section between Nosara and Samara. The National Roads Board (CONAVI) deployed the equipment provided by San Antonio construction company.

Road to Nosara is Impassable
The MOPT remains silent

There is great concern among residents and drivers in Garza, Guiones and Nosara due to the bad road conditions and the fact that no work has been done towards their improvement for over three months. As a result of the rainfall during this past few days, the road has become impassable.

Sexual Violence in Las Huacas Under Investigation

On May 22, around midnight, a woman, who is over 50 years old, was sexually assaulted at a house in Section EE, Guiones, where she was housesitting for her friends.

Tourist Police Could be Closed During June

At a meeting held at restaurant Casa Tucan by the Nosara Security Association on Saturday, May 28, Agnes Pinherio, the president of the association, said the Tourist Police of Guiones Beach may be closed unless the association can collect enough donations for its office maintenance. While last year the budget was more than $17,000, this year, only $5,500 has been collected.

Ministry of Health Sets End of July as Deadline for the Dump to Continue Operating

Improvements to Nosara's landfill must be made before the end of July; however, if no concrete efforts to improve it are made, the Ministry of Health will proceed to close it down. This was the order given by Nicoya's Ministry of Health engineer, Gabriel Sotelo González, on Wednesday, May 18th.

Nicoya Sewage Treatment Plant May Pollute the River Grande

Residents of the Matabuey neighborhood in the city of Nicoya expressed their displeasure with the foul smells emanating from the neighboring sewage treatment pools from the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA) as well as the treated waters discharged into the River Grande, which runs about 50 meters from the pools.

The Brothers of Nosara Representative are under investigation for tree cuttings

On March 27th, 2011, two officers from MINAET Ostional (Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications) found 20 pochote trees stumps, which were supposedly cut illegally on a property near the Nosara dump. Among the parties involved, which included two brothers of the Nosara Representative, Marcos Avila, none had permission to cut, transport, or sell the trees.


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