Late last week, Tropical Storm Depression #16 Nate passed through Costa Rica.
While the nonstop rain and heavy winds began on Wednesday, October 4, the storm passed through on Thursday, October 5, leaving 22 people dead and thousands without homes, running water, electricity, and cell phone service.
If you remember last year in November, Costa Rica was hit by Hurricane Otto, but damage was mostly seen in northern Costa Rica, where many communities and homes were flooded from rain water.
This year, damage was much more widespread and in fact worse than when an actual hurricane hit last year. Roads, bridges, and homes throughout the country have been severely damaged, especially in southern Costa Rica.
From San Vito, the nearest city to my site, there are two routes leading out into the open world. This is now one of them.
The other route was closed due to landslides and just reopened yesterday. Because of Costa Rica’s mountainous terrain, dangerous landslides have damaged routes throughout the entire country leaving many people without access to food and water.
The main route the connects San Jose to the south, Cerro de la Muerte (yup, that means Mountain of Death) is still shut down. Because this route is crucial for trade and product/food/gasoline transportation to southern Costa Rica, and even Panama, they’re hoping to reopen it by the end of this week.
During the storm, volunteers throughout the country saw their communities and homes affected by heavy rains and winds, especially those living closest to rivers and the coast.
One volunteer saw her backyard, once equipped with a shed, trees, and a path down to the river completely taken away by strong river currents.
Another saw her host family’s house completely inundated by water where furniture, belongings, and electronics were completely ruined and swept away.
Tarcoles, famous for its river full of crocodiles, overflowed allowing the crocodiles access to open roads (I think they’ve all been contained by now).
This storm has wrecked havoc on the country. Many volunteers have seen their friends, families, and colleagues displaced and communities flooded with water. A volunteer living in northern Costa Rica reports that over 70 families in his community have lost their homes while another volunteer returned to her site to find the entire women’s group that she was working with is now living in a shelter after each one of them lost their homes to flooding.
But these are just stories closest to me. Thousands, millions of people throughout the country, throughout the world, have lost their homes, belongings, livelihoods…everything due to natural disasters this year.
Like I said last year, and I feel the exact same way this time around, as a PCV experiencing natural disaster in your country of service is painful and difficult.
While we are here, we’re not really here. Our roots are set but as PCVs, we are provided with a sense of safety, security, and protection that those in our community are not.
But as volunteers, we are here to walk alongside and serve our communities, our country, and our countries of service, even in the face of natural disaster and tragedy.
And that’s what we’ll do.
For more information and how you can help the victims of Tropical Storm Nate follow the link or click on the picture below.