Brazil Floods Getting Worse–Whole Cities May Have To Move To Safer Locations.

Image: Wikimedia Commons. This satellite image shows a massive storm system over Brazil.
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Nearly half a million people have been displaced from their homes in Southern Brazil as torrential rains have caused floods leaving people without homes, electrical power, drinking water, or sewerage disposal.

And there may be worse to come.

Weather forecaster MetSul said that most Rio Grande do Sul cities should expect more heavy rain and storms over the weekend and going through until Monday.

The state is at a geographical meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres, which has created a weather pattern with periods of intense rain and others of drought.

Local scientists believe the pattern has been intensifying due to climate change.

“When I left for work on Monday, I could still get through the water-logged street with my car. By the afternoon, the army was rescuing people with a truck,” Porto Alegre resident Magda Moura told the BBC.

That was the day that the floods which have devastated parts of southern Brazil cut off the building she lived in.

“By Wednesday, the water had reached 5ft 6in” she recalls.

The 45-year-old physiotherapist is one of 408,100 people who have been displaced by floods triggered by torrential rain in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

At least 116 people have died across the state and, with many towns still cut off by the flood waters, hopes of finding the more than 140 people who are still missing are dwindling.

About 70,000 people are living in temporary shelters. Some of them have their pet dogs with them, but have had to abandon cats.

“I didn’t know the water would take over like this,” said one woman, her voice choked with emotion. “I’ve cried so much, blaming myself for leaving them in what I thought was a safe place.”

In the northern zone of the city, the evangelical church has become a lifeline for dozens of families huddled in the halls.

They too have lost everything to the floodwaters, their homes submerged, their possessions destroyed.

Pastor Dari Pereira, overwhelmed by the influx of displaced people, says he is doing his best to provide for everyone’s needs.

“We offer four meals a day, hot showers, medical and psychological assistance,” he explains, his voice weary but determined. “But the demand keeps growing, and we ran out of space. We now have to relocate people to other shelters.”

He believes it is important to offer shelter not only to people but also to their pets, adding that it is crucial for families’ emotional healing.

“We didn’t separate people from animals because separating them would take away everything they had,” he says.

“Today the vet said these animals could not stay inside because of the risk of transmitting diseases. But the school across the street has given us the gymnasium so we can build a kennel and a cattery.”

While some volunteers stockpile water, others sort donated clothes by size, and part of the team distributes the dozens of hot meals that have just arrived, also as donations.

Given the extent of the devastation, Marcelo Dutra da Silva, professor of ecology at the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), says that this time the public response needs to change radically.

“It’s no use trying to rebuild everything that was destroyed in this current event trying to make it as it was before. That doesn’t work any more.”

According to Mr Dutra da Silva, the reconstruction of Rio Grande do Sul will need to be planned by taking into consideration which areas are safer and more resistant to extreme climate variations and which are here to stay.

“Entire cities will have to change location,” he says.

“It is necessary to move urban infrastructures away from these higher-risk environments, which are the lower, flatter, and wetter areas, the hillside areas, the riverbanks, and the cities located within valleys.”

But the road ahead will be long and difficult. The flood crisis has left neighbourhoods isolated, with residents struggling to access basic necessities like food and clean water. The city’s infrastructure has been severely damaged, and it will take months, if not years, to recover.

The continuous rainfall is a constant reminder of the fragility of life in this flood-prone city. The fear of further flooding looms large, casting a shadow over the already devastated communities.

Despite the devastation and despair, there are glimmers of hope. Churches, community centres, and volunteers have been coming together to provide support and assistance to those in need. Donations pour in from across Brazil, and people from all walks of life are lending a helping hand.

As Roselaine watches her children play with other children displaced by the floods, she refuses to give up hope. “We’ve lost so much,” she says, her voice wavering but resolute.

“But we still have each other, and as long as we have that, we can face anything.

“We will rebuild,” she says. “We’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Sources: BBC.

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