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Not Everyone Can Return to Daily Life After Earthquake

By Emiliana Garcia
Photos by Giordano Ciampini

Although aftershocks continue to be felt constantly—now numbering more than 1,000—people are returning to their normal lives. For many, this is easy to do since their homes and businesses didn’t sustain damage or the damage was minimum after the earthquake on Wednesday, September 5th. But for other families, especially those of limited resources, returning to the life they had before the earthquake is a hard-to-reach dream.

Marcelino Matarrita Garcia house in Los Angeles, Nosara.

This is the case for Marcelino Matarrita Garcia, a 44-year-old Nosaran resident who works in construction. His house and his father’s house, located in the Los Angeles neighborhood next to the Nosara River, are just rubble.

On Wednesday at 8:42 a.m., his two older daughters were at school and the two youngest girls were at their maternal grandmother’s house. Matarrita Garcia was at work. “If [the earthquake] had happened at night, we wouldn’t be alive,” said Matarrita.

Jose Luis Ramirez, president of the local Emergency Committee, relates that seven houses in the town of Nosara are now uninhabitable and 17 are severely damaged. In Esparanza, six are damaged and one collapsed. The situation in Garza, Los Angeles of Zaragoza and Peladas beach is still not known with certainty.

“Some have their houses insured and need an appraisal to present to INS (insurance institute),” commented Ramirez, “but the majority [of the homes] were built without municipal permits,” so they aren’t classified to receive insurance money.

Marcelino Matarrita Garcia house in Los Angeles, Nosara.

This is the case for Matarrita Garcia, who doesn’t have home insurance. “We have to rebuild it and start again,” he said. “In the meantime, some friends are lending us a house.”

The volunteer team from the Nosara Emergency Committee is made up of four people who are working day and night. The Municipality of Nicoya created the Municipal Emergency Committee and, along with government entities like the National Emergency Commission, the Housing Ministry, the Public Force and the Ministry of Public Works, among others, they are coordinating professional visits to study the damages. The work is long and requires all the help possible, including civil engineers that can donate time to facilitate inspections (See the article “Nicoya Requests Collaboration of Civil Engineers to Facilitate Home Inspections”). 

Steven Alfaro Arnaez, part of the Municipal Emergency Committee, told VON that the economic investment that the Canton of Nicoya needs to repair public buildings and roadways is still unknown, but it will be thousands of millions of colones (hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Marcelino's Matarrita Garcia father house.

Looking for Donations
The Costa Rican government is driving a campaign under the slogan “Fuerza Costa Rica” (Costa Rican Force) in order to collect necessary resources to repair the damages left by the earthquake. 
The main objective will be repairing social and educational infrastructure, where damages from the seismic movements are concentrated. The idea is to collect resources to use them in as little time as possible.

The campaign initiated on Friday and the collection will be made by means of bank accounts with Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional, both in colones and dollars.

For Banco de Costa Rica, the accounts are: 401-4 in colones and 402-2 in dollars. In Banco Nacional the accounts activated are: 1-100-01-000-450000-0 in colones and 1-100-02-000-350000-2 in dollars.

Likewise, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute set up number 5201 so that by means of a text message 250 colones can be donated. 

If you want to volunteer and help the Emergency Committee of Nosara, you can contact Jose Luis Ramirez at 8899-0955 or 8837-9740. Gasoline can also be donated.

The Children of the Earthquake
“Calming the children is proving very difficult,” said Isidro Lopez, community leader in La Esperanza, a small village where an aftershock of 4.0 on the Richter scale was registered on Friday, September 7th at 2 p.m. with a depth of 18 km. Classes, and the customary routine of the children, might resume on Monday, the 10th, although that wasn’t confirmed when this article was finished on Friday the 7th.
Although Serapio Lopez School in Nosara is in good condition, the kindergarten dining hall has cracked walls, reported Ramirez. The Nosara High School has ruptures in some parts, especially in the areas of the bathroom and kitchen. In Esperanza, Lopez reported that the school also is “fine” but the dining hall is “in rather bad shape, and we relieve that it’s better to demolish it and build a new one.”

The schools of Santa Marta and Garza were not yet inspected.

Water Normally Arrives
The ASADA of Nosara is providing normal water service while they continue repairing the breakdowns in the system. President of the ASADA, Cristophe Husbawn, told VON that the metal tank cracked and they are analyzing the possibility of sodering it. Husbawn recommended not drinking the water since it is “mixed up and we don’t know what has been introduced in the piping.”
Chiqui Yaniz, president of the Playas de Nosara ASADA, the entity that supplies water to the “American Project,” assured that the infrastructure is now “in pretty good shape. We made a bunch of repairs.”


More Regional News

Fined Foreigners Face Re-entry Ban

According to the new Ley de Transito (traffic law), foreigners who do not pay a traffic ticket before leaving Costa Rica will be denied re-entry into the country on their next visit – whether by land or air.

Legislators Approve Moratorium on Evictions in Coastal Communities
“Decision of the President is Only a Postponement of the Evictions, Not a Solution” Gerardo Chaves Cordero (CIMACO)

The Legislative Assembly has approved in both the first and second debates a law that establishes a 24-month moratorium to halt evictions of inhabitants of special zones, including the maritime land zone.

Samara Discusses Disaster Preparedness

Although, the red alert was lowered to yellow and shelters were shut down, many remain nervous with so many aftershocks – over 1700 by Tuesday 11- and the possibility of another big quake.

Psychologists Visit Nosara and Samara to Calm People’s Nerves

On Monday, September 10, a group of 10 psychologists from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the College of Psychologists arrived in the communities of Samara and Nosara to meet with the populace and school teachers with the goal of giving them post-earthquake therapy.

This Was the Anticipated Earthquake for Nicoya, but Seismic Potential Remains

The September 5, 2012 earthquake in Cangrejal of Samara had a magnitude and location in the place foreseen by the scientific work published by OVSICORI during the last fifteen years. 

Effect on Tourism in the Coast Should Be Minimal

Optimism abounds as people in Samara and Nosara have assessed damages caused by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, September 5th with the epicenter in Cangrejal of Samara. Some have commented that it was fortunate that the earthquake happened during the day since injuries and structural damages were minimal.

Was This the Big One?

Three days after the 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook the country, a lot of information has been received  and processed by the Costa Rican Sismology and Volcanology Observatory (OVSICORI); nonetheless conclusions are few and progressive. 

Nicoya Requests Collaboration of Civil Engineers to Facilitate Home Inspections
240 Homes Affected

The Municipality of Nicoya requested the voluntary help of associated civil engineers to evaluate the damages suffered by houses and buildings alter the earthquake on Wednesday morning. 

Bridges over Rio Montaña and Nosara Not Seriously Damaged
RAASA Will Begin Work on Route 160 on Saturday, the 8th

After the 7.6 magnitude earthquake on September 5th, the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) assured that the bridges over Río Montaña and Nosara River not only withstood the strong shaking of the quake and aftershocks, but additionally the structures don’t show severe damages.

Video of 7.6 Earthquake in Nosara

Samara Remains Under Red Alert After Earthquake
Medical Services Are Limited

Still under red alert, 236 men, women and children are sleeping and eating in three designated shelters in the district of Samara, the epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that shook and shocked many on Wednesday morning, September 5th. 

President Chinchilla Came to Nicoya to Evaluate Situation
-Vice-Minister of Housing inspected damage in Nosara

Thursday morning, September 6th, President of the Republic Laura Chinchilla toured various parts of the canton in order to evaluate the situation 24 hours alter the earthquake with epicenter in Samara Beach

Engineers Survey Nosara Damage

Two engineers from the Architects and Engineer Federal College were present in Nosara this Thursday, September 6th, observing homes and surveying the damage resulting from the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which struck in the morning hours of September 5th, 2012.

7.6 Earthquake in Cangrejal of Samara
Information from the National Seismological Network (UCR)

8 km to the northeast of Samara
15 kilometers deep
7.6 intensity on the Richter scale
Felt as far away as Nicaragua

7.6 Earthquake in Cangrejal of Samara
7.6 Magnitude Earthquake Damages Several Structures in Nicoya

This Wednesday, September 5th a powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake struck approximately 8 kilometers northeast from the town of Samara, generating a strong quake whose force was felt throughout the country, but mostly on the Nicoya Peninsula.

7.6 Earthquake in Cangrejal of Samara
Municipality of Nicoya and National Emergency Commission Assessing Damages in Nosara

At around 2 p.m. a meeting was held with representatives of the Municipality of Nicoya, who arrived in Nosara to evaluate structural damages in the town in order to report to the National Emergency Commission (CNE). 

46% of Ticos Lack Faith in the Police
Opinions in Nosara and Samara are Mixed

The absolute trust that the majority of Costa Ricans once had in the officers of the Public Force has been diminishing through the years, giving way to an increase in the perception of greater insecurity in the country, according to reports from the United Nations Development Program (PNUD).

Nosara Center Asphalt Project Still in the Works

The project to pave two kilometers in the center of Nosara is being held up due to a funding issue in the municipality, so it might be a couple more months before the project can be completed. 

Municipality Looks to Recover Green Zones and Public Areas

The municipality is trying to sort out registries of lands in Garza, Nosara and Samara that are improperly registered. The lands include green zones, public property and streets in Samara and Nosara, as well as concessionable lands in the maritime zone of Garza.

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