Costa Rica is, more or less, considered a “safe zone” when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms making landfall and causing significant damage. Since reliable records of tropical cyclones began in 1851 only three storms have moved over Costa Rica: a tropical storm once in 1887, a tropical depression in 1973, and Hurricane Otto in 2016.

On November 24, after making landfall in Nicaragua, Hurricane Otto moved over the northern part of Costa Rica, causing widespread damage. Hurricane Otto was the strongest hurricane on record that late into the year, and one of the hardest hit communities was the small agrarian town of Bijagua. The village suffered three deaths and untold property damage, destroying the homes and lives of most of its residents during massive flooding in the area.

With homes and farms swept away, the people of Bijagua need help. Families have lost everything, and while disaster relief and international aid are on the way, Bijagua will not receive the help it needs. To this end, a local committee of residents has began to pursue more direct assistance.

With help from the Bijagua Development Association, funds are being collected here to directly benefit the residents of Bijagua who need it most. Instead of red tape and administration fees, the money collected will go straight to helping the town recover.

Spearheaded by Donald Varla Soto, Eliette Artavia, Harriet Smith, and Pip Kelly, the effort includes a detailed census, recording which families have been impacted and what their needs are. These people need places to live, furniture, white goods, clothes and other supplies. All donations received will directly go to the community members in Bijagua who have been impacted. All payments will be recorded with photo documentation and written receipts.