Even after eight days of the deadly Hurricane Alma having hit this region, at least 900 people travelling in different modes of transport continue to be trapped near the Deathly Hill area on the Inter-American highway connecting North America with Central American states.
Hurricane Alma (which means "soul") has caused flooding in southern parts of the country, rendering at least 9,000 homeless. Though the loss of human life in the affected countries has been minimal (only one person is reported dead in Nicaragua), the damage in the neighbouring countries too has been severe. In Nicaragua, at least 6,400 people have been rendered homeless. In many parts, people are being evacuated.
Daniel Gallardo, Director of the National Commission or Disaster Relief, said the worst affected were people living south of Deathly Hill, an important coffee-producing belt, where at least 20 communities were totally isolated. "We are sending land brigades (on foot) with water and food into the area and a massive relief work is on," he added.
A red alert has been sounded in the affected provinces where the winds were reported to have been as high as 55 miles per hour during the week, causing a number of road accidents. However, most airports, including the national airport in San Jose, are open and functional.
Besides climatic changes, the storm is attributed to the massive deforestation in the country, which officially claims to have 35 per cent of its area under forests. This area is closed from any activity, including agriculture. This May, the country faced the heaviest rainfall in years for the month.
"Since deforestation is feared to be one of the major causes of the misery, we are preparing for a possible repeat of the disaster and filling up storage areas and taking other steps," an official of the Commission for Disaster Relief told this visiting HT journalist over phone from Costa Rica.