Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Floods - DREF Operation Update n°2 (MDRCR015)

Originally published


A. Situation Analysis

Description of the Emergency According to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Hurricane Otto entered Costa Rican territory as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (wind gusts up to 175 km/h) on 24 November 2016 at 13:00 hrs. local time, close to the town of Los Chiles. This qualified Otto as the southernmost hurricane on record to hit Central America.

Hurricane Otto moved on a west south-west trajectory at an average speed of 15 km/h across Costa Rica before exiting the country at around 02:00 hrs. on 25 November.

The rains that fell along its path across Costa Rica triggered multiple Red and Yellow Alerts from the National Emergency Operation Committee (EOC).

According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's National Highway Administration Council (CONAVI), damage to transport infrastructure (roads and bridges) was initially estimated at around ₡4,734 million Costa Rican colones (approx. 8,8m US dollars); CONAVI reported that the greatest impact occurred in the central region, with 63 damaged roads, followed by the Brunca Region with 41, Huetar Altántica with 35, Chorotega with 7 and Huetar Norte with 4.
Only the Central Pacific area roads remained unscathed.

An airlift operation was conducted with Costa Rican, Panamanian and American aircraft arrived on 25 and 26 November to continue with relief actions and food, medicine and hygiene item distributions in hard-to-reach areas, especially in Alta Talamanca and in Pacífico Sur where some communities were cut off.

Movement Coordination

The IFRC has been in contact with the National Society since the low-pressure system began forming on 15 November.

The IFRC has held regional coordination meetings with Central American National Societies and internal Movement partners to gather information regarding the actions being conducted by the various National Societies in the region.

A disaster management delegate was deployed to the country, in coordination with the National Society to assist with the activation of the Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) and develop the emergency plan of action; he later conducted monitoring visits to oversee the implementation of the operational activities.

Actions by Costa Rican Red Cross (CRRC) –Response Phase

  • The Institutional Response Committee, led by CRRC's president, national council members, senior management and national risk management and emergency response director, remained permanently active during the impact/response phase

  • Coordination with national Costa Rican authorities, on a permanent basis through EOCs and the National Risk Management System’s Steering Committee.

  • Red Cross actions focused on the preventive evacuation of residents, victim search and rescue, extra-hospital care and the management of humanitarian supplies during the impact/response phase.

  • Local emergency committees and institutional representatives participated in and coordinated actions with authorities and civil society representatives.

  • The National Society assisted in setting up and management of temporary collective centres.

  • In total, 122 branches and 9 coordination regions across the country are active and working on operational, administrative and logistical activities, with more than 1,200 men and women in active service since the onset of the event; the CRRC has deployed logistics personnel and more than 300 light vehicles (four-wheel drive vehicles, rescue units and conventional ambulances, among others), three trucks and one trailer.

  • Red Cross' Emergency Operation Centre was active 24/7 at its facilities in the operational building in the capital city of San José to tabulate, centralize and process all information generated by various auxiliary committees, the National Risk Management and Emergency Relief Commission (CNE for its acronym in Spanish), OVSICORI and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

  • CRRC's National Donation Collection Centre was enabled at the request of the national authorities.

  • The CRRC provided Restoration of Family Links services.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

Government of Costa Rica actions

  • Red Alerts declared in various Costa Rican areas

  • Activation of Regional and Local Emergency Committees

  • Support to response institutions' actions and coordination

  • Provision of relief items (blankets, mattresses and basic food rations)

  • Reports from Costa Rica’s Volcanology and Seismology Observatory (OVSICORI for its acronym in Spanish) and two meteorological reports from the National Meteorological Institute (IMN for its acronym in Spanish)

  • Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) crews restored electric services from Guatuso to Colonia. ICE technicians in Guatuso worked to restore normal service to Upala and Los Chiles, and normal service was restored to 300 clients in Barra Parimina on the Caribbean coast.

  • Costa Rican Social Security (CCSS) technical teams inspected hospital systems in Upala to determine possible damage.

  • The ban on departures from ports and coasts was lifted on 25 November 2016; however, vessels were warned to stay alert to any changes in weather conditions.

  • The Banking for Development System (SBD) made more than ₡6 billion colones (10.8 million US dollars) from programme resources available to financial operators to respond to the emergency.