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Government Responds to Displaced as Flooding Worsens in ...

Government Responds to Displaced as Flooding Worsens in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Despite the rain intensity decreasing, municipalities in the Western Frontier [of Rio Grande do Sul state] remain on alert due to the flooding of the Uruguay River. In São Borja, the water level was 11 meters above normal as of Thursday night on July 16. Civil Defense estimates that over 120 families have been forced to

Flooding in Brazil

Despite the rain intensity decreasing, municipalities in the Western Frontier remain on alert due to the flooding of the Uruguay River. In São Borja, the water level was 11 meters above normal as of Thursday night on July 16. Civil Defense estimates that over 120 families have been forced to leave their houses. One hundred are staying with family members and the other 25 in municipal shelters.

In all, nine cities in the state are in an emergency situation. Itaqui, which is in the same region as São Borja, is also on high alert. As a preventative measure, houses that can be transported are being moved to points of higher altitude.

In Uruguaiana, it’s no different. Although the water has yet to flood any houses, the affected residents are being sent to other regions of the municipality. Since the river level is rising gradually, the Civil Defense reinforces the importance for residents in flooded regions to relocate to other locations.

In Vale do Sinos, the river level also continues to rise. In Novo Hamburgo, 450 families had to leave their homes on the evening of July 16th. The Civil Defense worked through the night and did not stop until morning, as the water was rising at a rate of two centimeters per hour.

Defesa Civil, Brazil

“We have been working for two days to alert people that the river is rising rapidly. Many have started to climb up on their furniture, and others have begun to leave for homes of relatives. We already have two shelters ready to receive these people,” he explains.

In Esteio, the water level has come down, and trash is appearing on the streets. The city has collected 150 tons of rubble during the day. In addition to lost furniture, there is much spoiled food. In Cachoeirinha, 85 families had to be relocated to a shelter. In São Sebastião do Caí, the water level is decreasing but has flooded more than 300 houses. About 30 families are flooded in Parque Centenário.

In Gravataí, the flood hit 1,800 houses, but the majority of residents have been able to return. The Health Vigilance is now working to control the epidemics.

Emergency Situation

Another city has informed the Civil Defense that it faces an emergency situation as a result of the large volume of rain that affected the state during the week. Darci Lauermann, the mayor of São Sebastião do Caí in the Vale of Caí, stated that he will take a count of the strategies and organize the documents to issue a decree. The heightened level of the Caí River led to flooding in the municipality. It is still not known when the 28 families flooded in the Centro Integrado Navegantes will be able to return to their homes.

The cities of Esteio and Rolante have already issued an emergency situation decree and are awaiting confirmation from the Civil Defense. The municipalities of Riozinho, Esperança do Sul, Barra do Guarita, São Jerônimo, Cachoeirinha and Iraí also will inform their situation to the organization and will prepare the documentation to implement the decree.

The bulletin released on the night of the 16th by the organization notes that the number of people who had to leave their homes increased from 5,120 to 6,320, with 875 being relocated and sent to locations set up by the governments of the 47 affected cities.

Minister of National Integration Gilberto Occhi, Brazil

At the end of the afternoon of the 16th, Governor José Ivo Sartori met with the Minister of National Integration Gilberto Occhi, in the Piratini Palace in Porto Alegre, to discuss the issue. The minister suggested the reconnaissance summary of the emergency situation in the small cities, which would eliminate the bureaucracy needed to obtain recourse.

“We are gaining an understanding of the government’s emergency status decree for several municipalities, in order to submit it to the Minister of Integration and commence reconnaissance immediately,” said the minister. “By recognizing and publishing the municipalities’ emergency situations in the Diário Oficial , we will be able to, from this point forward, draw more responsive actions, not only in restoring cities, but also in the reconstruction,” said the minister.

Sartori stood in solidarity with the population. “It’s a difficult moment, and only with the collaboration of everyone can we overcome and help communities in need," he said.

Does flooding impact the region where you live? How many families are affected by floods? Share your thoughts and your city’s stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Anna Petrone is a transportation engineering masters student at the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor in Math and Economics. Her interests lie in transportation projects located in developing countries, particularly in South America. She took a...

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