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Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of floods

The south of Brazil remained on alert Monday after new floods caused by torrential rains over the weekend, prolonging the "endless drama" engendered by 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 floods 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 hard-hit center of the state, 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 aftermath of an endless drama here in Rio Grande do Sul “, declared the vice-governor of the state, Gabriel Souza, on the Globo channel.

And the toll increases every day.

According to the latest point published Monday by Civil Defense, 147 people were killed, 806 were injured and 127 were 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 the weekend in the region, swelling rivers again and raising fears of additional damage.

Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of floods

Floods in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, on May 13, 2024 in Brazil © AFP – ANSELMO CUNHA

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.

“Now is not the time to return to homes located in risk areas,” he warned during 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 the Civil defense.

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

– Indigenous communities –< /p>

The torrential rains that have hit the region over the past 15 days have affected a total of more than two million people.

Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of floods

A man in a boat stands in front of a flooded house in Canoas, southern Brazil, May 13, 2024 © AFP – Nelson ALMEIDA

Among them are at least 80 indigenous communities, some of which have been hit extremely seriously, according to the Indigenous Missionary Council of Brazil.

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

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

Southern Brazil on alert facing “endless drama” of floods

Cars damaged by flooding in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, May 12, 2024 © AFP – Nelson ALMEIDA

The State of Rio Grande do Sul is living to the rhythm of this extraordinary crisis. With the closures of faculties, 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 natural weather phenomenon El Niño.

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