Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/12
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Costa Rica - Floods
This report is based on the latest information prepared by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) in Costa Rica.


1. Heavy rains started on 7 January affecting the entire Caribbean coast and the Northern area of the country. The precipitation reported on 8 January was 344.5 mm whereas the normal precipitation for that time of year is 303 mm. The heavy rainfalls eventually caused flooding in the following 11 cantons:

Limón Province: Guacimo, Limon, Matina, Pococi, Siquierres and Talamanca

Heredia Province: Sarapiqui

Cartago Province: Paraíso, Alvarado and Turrialba

Alajuela Province: San Ramon

2. By 11 January more than 6,000 people had been evacuated. According to the report issued by the National Emergency Commission (CNE) on 18 January, 2,143 persons are still in temporary shelters and four people lost their lives.

3. An overview of the current situation is as follows:

Persons missing / dead
Temporary shelters in operation
Persons in temporary shelters
Agricultural land affected/Damaged
6,642.5 hectares
Infrastructure affected/damaged
- Communities
- Housing units
- Health posts
- Sewage systems
- Aqueducts
- Wells
- Electric installations
- Schools
- Roads
- Bridges
- Dikes

4. As of 20 January Talamanca (population: 29,300) is the most affected area with 1,907 persons in 19 temporary shelters. According to the national authorities, the health sector requires assistance for damaged hospitals and clinics in addition to rehabilitating aqueducts and sewage systems and cleaning contaminated wells.

5. The Ministry of Health requested the following relief items for Talamanca:

  • 96 kg of granulated bleach
  • 12,000 chlorine tablets
  • Mobile latrines
  • 5 water pumps to clean contaminated wells
  • Equipment to clean septic tanks
  • Shoes and boots
  • Sanitary kits
  • Fumigation equipment and pesticides
A more detailed list of requirements will be prepared after obtaining reports from field assessments.

National Response

6. The Government issued a red alert on 9 January and declared a national emergency on 11 January, with the Executive Emergency Decree #32180-MP-MOPT, for the most affected areas.

7. The CNE is coordinating activities of the Emergency Committee composed of CNE representatives, fire fighters, the Red Cross, the Ministry of Public Security, Sistema 9-1-1, the Ministry of Health, Social Security System (CCSS), Social Assistance Institute (IMAS), the Ministry of Public Construction, Aqueducts and Sewage System (AyA), the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture. This Committee was activated immediately after the onset of the flooding. All Local Emergency Committees in the affected areas have been activated.

8. The President of Costa Rica visited the affected areas on 11 January. He made an appeal to the Costa Rican population to donate funds for the emergency. Through two television shows, more than USD 1 million was raised.

9. The Ministry of Health and the Social Security System (CCSS) assessed the damages to the health infrastructure. Special attention is placed on evacuated people and their needs for clean water and sanitation. The health situation in the region is monitored closely.

10. The Costa Rican Red Cross is managing the incoming aid through the SUMA (Humanitarian Supply Management System).

International Response

11. The UNDMT met on 19 January to exchange information on the effects of the disaster, available relief supplies and contributions, and to coordinate current response activities. The UNDMT is in constant communication with national authorities, particularly the CNE and the Ministry of Health.

12. The World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), UNDP and UNICEF are planning field visits to Talamanca on 20-21 January to assess the damages and needs.

13. WHO/PAHO brought in an international expert to assess damages to clinics and hospitals in Daytona and Home Creek in Talamanca.

14. WHO/PAHO is assisting the national authorities and the Costa Rican Red Cross to delivery of humanitarian assistance through SUMA.

15. FAO is preparing a mission to the affected areas in the second week of February to assess the damages to agriculture.

16. This situation report, together with the information on contributions and other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Tel. +41-22-917 1234
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Ms. Masayo Kondo
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 1977

Press contact:
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. + 41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26
Mr. Brian Grogan, direct Tel. +1-212-963 11 43

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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