Damage evaluation, repairs begin across Costa Rica

More than 3,000 people are in shelters due to flooding and landslides.

We brought you a special weekend edition of The Costa Rica Daily on Saturday as flooding created emergency conditions in Costa Rica. Click here to read it. Today, a follow-up to that ongoing story.


More than 3,200 people have been evacuated to shelters as severe flooding damaged houses and other infrastructure throughout Costa Rica over the weekend.

While rain during the rainy season isn’t unique, this weather was historic: Turrialba, for example, has received more rainfall this month than any July in recorded history.

“We cannot look at this as an isolated incident. These rains, these extreme phenomena are related to climate change, to which we must adapt,” said President Carlos Alvarado.

This weekend highlighted Costa Rica’s infrastructure deficiencies in the face of extreme weather. Nearly 3,000 events such as floods, landslides and road collapses were reported nationwide.

Of particular importance is the damage suffered to a bridge located on Route 36 at La Estrella River. Because Route 36 is the only major road to the southern Caribbean, a single incident has isolated a large portion of the country:

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) says it will install a Bailey bridge over La Estrella river in order to re-establish road access. However, the new structure won’t be ready until Wednesday.1

“The ongoing emergency due to flooding over recent days … is evidence of the dreadful situation of our road infrastructure,” said the South Caribbean Tourism Chamber.

The regions of Costa Rica that were most severely impacted by the weather are:

  • The northern cantons of San Carlos, Upala, Sarapiquí and Guatuso.

  • The canton of Turrialba, about 45 km east of San José.

  • Matina, Limón and Talamanca in the Caribbean.

Costa Rican authorities will visit affected areas on Monday as the country begins damage evaluation and repairs. The financial toll will likely run many millions of dollars, and there is a human impact, too: A school was destroyed, hundreds of homes have been damaged, and at least one person has been confirmed dead.

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Individuals or companies that would like to offer aid can indicate their intent to donate via the National Emergency Commission.

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1

MOPT originally said the bridge would be ready Monday. We have updated this story with the new estimate.