Floods in Brazil | Aid pours in before more rains

(Porto Alegre) Deployment of a Navy aircraft carrier, sending food in a Neymar plane: initiatives multiplied on Tuesday to help the populations of southern Brazil, who fear a return of rains after historic floods .

The toll from the worst climatic disaster in the history of Rio Grande do Sul, an important agricultural state, continues to worsen: 90 dead, 131 missing and 362 injured, according to the latest report from Civil Defense.

In Porto Alegre, the regional capital, and in nearly 400 localities, more than 156,000 people had to leave their homes because of the impressive rise in water caused by bad weather throughout the last week.

Cargoes of aid and donations from all over the country landed Tuesday in the metropolis, where “the most urgent need is water,” Sabrina Ribas, of Civil Defense, said at a press conference.

” I am exhausted. God forbid I run out of water,” Elizabeth, 67, told AFP as she filled buckets at one of the few taps available in the town of Alvorada, near Porto Alegre.

Only one of the six water treatment plants is working and hospitals and accommodation centers are supplied with tanker trucks, reported the capital’s town hall, after having decreed water rationing.

“There is no forecast for the system to return to normal,” acknowledged the municipality.

Neighboring countries

In the town of Canoas, a suburb of Porto Alegre, boats are going back and forth to rescue residents who had decided to stay at home until the last moment or had not been able to be reached before.

“We were in a room, upstairs, and the water had risen to the sixth step of the stairs. We managed to get out in time, but now we hope that the water will subside,” Brenda Silveira, 24, told AFP.

The ballet of helicopters is incessant to provide water and food to the “hardest hit localities” while we work “intensely to clear the roads”, detailed the head of Civil Defense.

As part of an operation “similar to a war situation”, the Navy is to send the aircraft carrier “Atlantico”, the largest military ship in Latin America, with two mobile sewage treatment plants to the region on Wednesday.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced that “emergency funds will begin to be released” on Tuesday for “first aid”.

Some 15,000 soldiers, firefighters, police officers and volunteers were mobilized to rescue the victims.

Countries like Uruguay and Argentina, neighbors of Rio Grande do Sul, have provided or made available relief equipment and specialized personnel.

Many celebrities have also stepped up to send aid to Rio Grande do Sul. Football star Neymar sent a plane full of food. “I pray that everything returns to normal,” he wrote in an Instagram message illustrated with photos showing the plane full of boxes of food and bottles of water.

Worrying weather

While scenes of desolation follow one another everywhere, the weather forecasts are worrying.

The National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) forecasts ‘great danger’ severe weather in the far south of the state until Wednesday, with rain of more than 100mm, winds and possibly hail , in this hitherto rather preserved area.

Rain is also expected in the center and north of the state, which by the end of the week could worsen and “harm relief operations”, warned meteorologist Catia Valente.

The Guaiba River, which crosses Porto Alegre and its region, reached 5.28 meters on Tuesday, still a historic level.

Satellite images taken on Monday and broadcast by the specialized site MetSul gave an idea of ​​the scale of the disaster.

“The floods have changed the map of the metropolitan region” of Porto Alegre, MetSul said.

The Jacui River, one of the most important in the state, has widened in an “incredible” way, the site added. However, the Taquari and Cai rivers, which had reached record levels in recent days, are “continuously declining”.

But the recession in the Taquari valley, one of the hardest hit areas, revealed a spectacle of devastation: everywhere there were uninhabitable houses, streets covered in mud and overturned vehicles.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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