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Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of flooding

Photo: Andre Penner Associated Press The torrential rains that have fallen since the beginning of the month in the state of Rio Grande do Sul have caused rivers to overflow, as here in Porto Alegre.

France Media Agency in Rio de Janeiro

Published yesterday at 3:25 p.m. Updated at 12:24 a.m.

  • Americas

The south of Brazil remained on alert Monday after new floods caused by the torrential rains of the weekend, prolonging the “endless drama” caused by the historic floods which left at least 147 dead in the region.

A sign that the time remains for crisis management, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has postponed a state visit to Chile, initially scheduled for May 17 and 18.

The presidency invoked the “need to monitor the situation linked to flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and to coordinate assistance to the affected population and reconstruction work”. No new date has been announced.

Two weeks after the start of this unprecedented bad weather, and despite relief operations, this important agricultural region still offers a spectacle of chaos, between flooded streets, submerged fields, ravaged buildings and cut roads.

In the center of the state, hard hit, a road leading to the town of Lajeado, in the Taquari valley, was blocked on Monday, AFP journalists noted. The international airport of the regional capital Porto Alegre is still flooded.

“We are experiencing the continuation of an endless drama here in Rio Grande do Sul,” said the state's vice-governor, Gabriel Souza, on the Globo channel.

And the toll increases every day.

According to the latest point published Monday by the Civil Defense, 147 people were killed, 806 were injured and 127 are missing. More than 600,000 had to abandon their homes, including nearly 81,000 accommodated in schools and other gymnasiums transformed into shelters.

New intense rains fell throughout throughout the weekend in the region, swelling the waterways again and raising fears of additional damage.

Showers subsided on Monday, but state Governor Eduardo Leite urged evacuees not to return home, especially in and around Porto Alegre, where the Guaiba River could reach a new record.

Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of flooding

Photo: Andre Penner Associated Press Residents of Porto Alegre are forced to travel by canoe.

“Now is not the time to return to homes located in risk areas,” he warned at a press conference.

The level of the river could exceed in the coming days the historic peak of 5.3 meters reached on May 5 and 6, to reach 5.6 m, warned Civil Defense.

The first overflows of the Guaiba River occur from three meters.

Indigenous communities

The torrential rains that have fallen on the region for 15 days have affected a total of more than two million people.

Among them are at least 80 indigenous communities, some of whom were hit extremely seriously, according to the Brazilian Indigenous Missionary Council.

The government said Monday it had delivered food kits and drinking water for 240 families in three of these communities in the Taquari Valley.

In Porto Alegre, a modern metropolis of 1.4 million inhabitants, food aid distribution operations , drinking water, medicines or clothing continue, with the help of many volunteers.

The State of Rio Grande do Sul is living to the rhythm of this extraordinary crisis. With faculty closures, nearly 360,000 students find themselves without classes, and the health system must rely on the help of field hospitals set up by relief teams.

According to experts, these intense rains, like the other extreme climatic events which have taken place in recent months in Brazil, are linked to global warming, to which has been added since last year the impact of the natural meteorological phenomenon El Niño.

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