Family and Friends,
Tropical Storm Tomas has played havoc with Costa Rica The government declared a national emergency yesterday. The pacific coast has experienced massive flooding putting many people in shelters because their homes are flooded. While flooding is the problem in the lowlands, land slides and debris flows are the problem in the mountains. Several communities in canyons along mountain river banks have been completely destroyed by debris flows. The worst one was in a suburb of the capital city San Jose. It hit in the middle of the night while folks were asleep. The water shed above their area had received 6" of rain in a very short time. So far they have recovered 20 bodies with at least that many missing. At the last count ten bridges are washed out and most highways and roads are either blocked or partially blocked by flooding or landslides. My neighbor told be this morning that three men repairing a water line in our area were hit by a landslide and "disappeared". They have evacuated some of the folks here that live close to the rivers. That is the bad news. The good news is that we are safe and dry with plenty of food, candles, flashlights, batteries, propane and drinking water. We have lost our water and power several times but both are on for now. We were without water most of yesterday, all of last night and some of this morning. As soon as it came on today we did the dishes and took showers. We have everything that will hold water filled with rain water in case we lose the water again. The tap water is cloudy right now and the rain water is clear. We are staying put and will not venture out until we get the all clear. I feel sorry for Costa Rica. As we have driven almost every major road and many not so major we have come to realize that Costa Rica was way behind in it's maintenance and repair of roads before this storm and the one before it hit. On our last big road trip we went south to the Panama border on the Interamerican highway and returned on the Coastanera highway. Along the way we saw a lot of areas that needed repair and passed a lot of areas being repaired. The country was behind before this storm and now they are really behind. I doubt if they will ever catch up. Their is one place on the Interamerican in the mountains that we drive through every time we travel to and from San Jose. It is a side hill fill with only one lane because the other lane has slid off the mountain. The mountain is straight up and down here and it would take a tremendous amount of earth work, retaining walls and drainage to restore the lane. So for two years that we know of, there is one down hill lane. So when you get to this spot you either yield or scoot around it quickly hoping that you don't meet an oncoming semi. Today and tomorrow have been declared a national day of mourning for those who have lost their lives. As we have watched the news it seems that the poorest folks are the ones most impacted. It is a sad time for Costa Rica.
Mike and Pat