The number of deaths as a result of the storms that hit Rio Grande do Sul this Monday (4) rose to 31. This is the biggest natural disaster in the state in the last four decades, surpassing the 16 deaths due to the extratropical cyclone in June. Governor Eduardo Leite (PSDB) said that he will declare a state of public calamity and that the September 7th parades have been cancelled.
:: The emergence of the debate on food sovereignty and socio-environmental disasters ::
During the morning, the delegation of federal government ministers arrived in the state and headed to Lajeado, where they flew over the affected areas, in Vale do Taquari and Serra Gaúcha. Among the locations is the municipality of Muçum, with around 80% of homes underwater, 100% of businesses destroyed and where 15 deaths were recorded in a single house.
After flying over the areas together with the governor, ministers Waldez Góes, of Integration and Regional Development, and Paulo Pimenta, of the Secretariat of Social Communication, in addition to the president of the National Supply Company (Conab), Edegar Pretto, assured, at the press conference press conference, that aircraft will be sent to support rescues, basic food baskets and financial resources to help the state. Lula government ministers reported a “scenario of war and destruction”.
:: Preparing cities for extreme weather events is possible and there are examples in Brazil ::
According to the delegation, in order to release financial support, city halls need to present a work plan for reconstruction and recovery of structures. “Each city hall identifies its needs. There is a type of emergency work plan that can be released within 48 hours”, explained Pimenta.
Leite said that “it is the greatest natural tragedy on record in Rio Grande do Sul.” Minister Góes reported “a scenario of war and total destruction” and highlighted the need for synergy between all spheres of power and volunteers to reestablish hope and normality.
The governor of Rio Grande do Sul said he received a call from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and messages from the vice-president, Geraldo Alckmin (PSB). When announcing the cancellation of the September 7th parades, he justified it with the climate of consternation over the deaths caused by the floods. The cancellation, according to him, allows the concentration of forces on rescue and assistance actions for the affected population.
There are still people missing
By early afternoon this Wednesday (6), the state Civil Defense counted 75 municipalities affected, 2,299 homeless people and 3,084 displaced people. The total number of people affected is estimated at 43,887. The 31 deaths confirmed so far were in the cities of Muçum (15), Roca Sales (8), Ibiraiaras (2), Lajeado (2), Estrela (2), Mato Castelhano (1) and Passo Fundo (1).
Residents of several cities report scenes of destruction and dozens of people are missing. The municipality of Estrela, where the Taquari River passes, suddenly reached a level where the city council released a search notice for missing people which, by mid-afternoon this Wednesday (6), had more than 30 names.
In Roca Sales, also bathed by the Taquari River, the waters destroyed houses, shops and public buildings. In a report published on Instagram, the city hall asked residents to climb onto the roofs and bundle up to wait for the rescues that would only come this morning. The city hall is also looking for missing people.
Several sections of highways in RS are blocked due to the rains of the last few days. This Wednesday (6), there are 18 highways with total or partial closures.
State will have new storms
According to a bulletin from MetSul Metereologia, new instability is expected to arrive in Rio Grande do Sul this week. A warm front begins to form tonight and will bring a wave of hailstorms and gales with heavy rain during Thursday (7). On Friday (8), a cold front hits the state, driven by a cyclone in Eastern Argentina, bringing more rain and storms.
:: ‘Climate change is a source of poverty’, says secretary of the Climate Observatory ::
According to MetSul, there is a risk of strong to severe storms with damage, especially in the northern half of Rio Grande do Sul, in the west of Santa Catarina and Paraná and in Mato Grosso do Sul during the movement of the cold front at the end of Thursday and during Friday. Since the front will move quickly and in the form of a line, there is a high potential for strong winds with the possibility of strong to intense gales with damage in some cities.
The Civil Defense of Porto Alegre issued a warning of the possibility of flooding in the riverside region of the Capital, especially in the Arquipélago neighborhood and in the South zone. The rise in the level of the Guaíba river occurs as a result of the high volume of water flowing from the Jacuí/Taquari system. The guidance is that the population avoids walking on the streets, takes shelter in a safe place and, if they live in a property at risk of flooding, seek temporary shelter with family members or city hall. If you have any questions or emergencies, call Civil Defense (199) or the Fire Department (193).
Conab will donate 5 thousand basic baskets
During the federal government’s solidarity and aid mission, this Wednesday, the president of Conab, Edegar Pretto, confirmed that the federal government will donate 5,000 food baskets to help families affected by heavy rains and floods. He stated that the entire structure of the Company was mobilized, under the guidance of President Lula.
“Conab is able to operationalize the baskets, which were purchased with the budget of the Ministry of Social Development. So, this basic food supply for families is already guaranteed. We will deliver wherever there are people in vulnerable situations, especially to those who are outside their homes at the moment”, said Pretto.
The baskets will come from storage units in Montes Claros, in Minas Gerais, as Conab’s food stock in RS was recently used to help victims of a previous cyclone in the state. According to Pretto, at first 3 thousand baskets will be delivered and, later, the other 2 thousand. Each one contains 21.5 kg of food and is made up of rice, beans, sugar, wheat flour, cornmeal, pasta, soy oil, powdered milk, salt and sardines.
MAB warns of the state’s neglect of dams
The Movement of People Affected by Dams released a note warning about the state of the approximately 9,000 dams in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, of which most are abandoned or without adequate maintenance, according to the Dam Safety Report. “Even so, the current governor, Eduardo Leite (PSDB), revoked the State Policy on the Rights of Populations Affected by Dams, the only public policy that provided for prevention and repair actions in affected areas”, he criticizes.
According to the movement, recent extreme events show that this condition is no longer an exception. “The dramatic, chaotic and increasingly frequent recurrence of this type of event requires a different stance from the state and society as a whole. It is necessary to hold public power representatives accountable for their criminal omission,” he says.
MAB highlights that it has fought for the creation of public policies capable of preventing losses caused by this type of event, as well as the creation of sufficient mechanisms to repair the losses caused, placing the affected population as a subject in prevention and repair actions. “Only in this way would it be possible to reverse the long period of social exclusion of communities currently revictimized by the effects of climate change”, he states.
* With information from GZH, Agência Brasil, MetSul and Government of RS
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Katia Marko