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Brazil: “fear” in the face of new rains hitting the flooded South

The south of Brazil, devastated by historic floods whose toll continues to rise, is hit again by intense rains which are expected to further intensify over the weekend, which complicates the work of rescue teams and raises fears of further damage.

“Many people see the rain and are traumatized. We see that people are afraid,” Enio Posti, a firefighter from Porto Alegre, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, told AFP, largely still flooded.

“We know that when it rains, the water ends up rising even more”, he continues, protected from the rain by his neoprene suit.

Heavy downpours at the beginning of the month in this agricultural state in the south of the country caused rivers to overflow, affecting nearly two million people and leaving 136 dead and 806 injured, according to the latest report from Civil Defense on Saturday evening.

Some 125 people are still missing, while more than 537,000 have been forced to abandon their homes due to the disaster, which UN experts and the Brazilian government link to climate change and the El Niño phenomenon.< /p>

Some 81,000 other people took refuge in shelters opened by the authorities, while more than 92,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the floods, according to the National Confederation of Municipalities.

In a statement released on Saturday, US President Joe Biden said he was “saddened” by the “devastation” in Brazil and assured that Washington “is working to provide aid necessary” to the populations in coordination with the local authorities.

Since the return of the rains on Friday in Porto Alegre and in other areas already affected, the authorities remain on alert and are increasing the number of messages asking the population not to return to the disaster areas.

The region expects “isolated showers and storms”, which will continue until early next week, according to the National Meteorological Institute, which warns of the risk of “floods and electric shocks”.

Brazil: “fear” in the face of new rains hitting the flooded South

Aerial view of flooding caused by heavy rains in Mucum, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 10, 2024. © AFP – Gustavo Ghisleni

The heaviest precipitation volumes are forecast to occur between Sunday and Monday. Meteorologist Catia Valente warned of the risk of new landslides on the north coast in particular.

– “My family” –

Despite the rains, the Guaiba, a body of water that borders Porto Alegre – considered as much as a river, a lake or an estuary – reached 4.57 meters on Saturday, its lowest level since the May 3, according to the state government. The first overflows occur from three meters.

In the regional capital of 1.4 million inhabitants, operations to distribute food aid, drinking water, medicine and clothing continue despite the rain.

Government institutions, businesses, political and sports figures, artists or ordinary citizens, the entire country is mobilizing to help the victims.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva welcomed on Saturday on the social network Joao, largely still underwater, firefighters and volunteers are working, AFP journalists noted. Aboard inflatable boats, boats or jet-skis, they distribute aid to the victims.

“They rescued me while passing by on a boat, I called , they stopped and rescued me, I was looking for my family,” Everton Machado, a 36-year-old resident, told AFP.

.The flow of boats to the affected areas, where many people stayed at home for fear of looting, has however reduced.

Brazil: “fear” in the face of new rains hitting the flooded South

Brazilian Air Force soldiers prepare donations to send to flood victims in Rio Grande do Sul state at Brasilia Air Base, Brazil, May 10, 2024 © AFP – EVARISTO SA

Bottled water remains rare in the city, and night and day tankers supply shelters, hospitals, buildings and hotels.

Despite new rains and chaos, residents are trying to regain some semblance of normalcy. Some stores are reopening, while the water has started to recede in places. Elsewhere, trucks pump the muddy water that still floods streets and buildings.

Historic floods, record wildfires, unprecedented heat waves, drought , extreme climatic events have continued in Brazil in recent months.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116