Southern Brazil is still reeling from flooding as it faces danger from new storms

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Meteorologist Estel Cías knew water would spill into the metropolitan area of ​​the capital, Porto Alegre, after massive flooding engulfed entire cities in Brazil’s northern Rio Grande do Sul state last week. A safe place.

So she left everything behind, her husband, three children, two dogs. Within 24 hours, water began filling his neighborhood in Canoas, now one of the state’s worst-hit towns.

“My house was flooded,” Sias recalled, her voice breaking. “It was very difficult to leave my family, to leave my home.” He said he could protect his immediate family, but not others who insisted on staying. “It was very painful and still is. I don’t know what it will be like to go back home,” he said.

Authorities in southern Brazil rushed Wednesday to rescue survivors of massive floods that have killed at least 100 people, but some residents refused to leave their belongings behind and others returned to evacuated homes despite the risk of fresh storms.

Officials say 130 people are missing after heavy rains and flooding in the Rio Grande do Sul since last week. More than 230,000 people have been displaced, and most areas have been cut off by floodwaters.

Authorities in southern Brazil on Wednesday rushed to rescue survivors of massive flooding that has killed at least 100 people. (08 May) (Ap/Lucas Dumphreys)

Storms are expected in the state Wednesday evening, with hail and wind gusts of up to 60 kilometers (37 mph), according to the National Weather Service’s afternoon bulletin. And the agency has predicted a cold spell with additional rain this weekend, especially in the north and east of the state.

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In Porto Alegre, around 300 people took refuge at local club Gremio Nautico Uniao, based in the upscale, less-affected neighborhood of Moinhos de Vento. Dozens lay on mattresses as volunteers brought boxes filled with feijoada — a typical Brazilian bean and pork stew.

Hayter da Silva was one of them who heeded the authorities’ warnings. However, he worries about his future.

“I only took my documents, three shirts, two pairs of underwear and my flip-flops. Everything else was gone,” said da Silva, 68. “I already had very little, but it was there. Going home would be nothing. And then what?”

Employees of the state’s civil defense agency told The Associated Press they were struggling to force residents of the hard-hit Eldorado do Sul city to leave their homes. It is located near the center of the state’s coast near Porto Alegre. At least four refused to leave.

A military helicopter from the Eldorado do Sul flyover showed hundreds of houses submerged in water, with only their roofs visible. Residents used paddleboards, surfboards and personal watercraft to get around. Mayor Ernani de Freitas told local journalists that the city would be “totally evacuated”.

He said it would take at least a year to recover.

Rio Grande do Sul’s Gov. Eduardo Leite, speaking at a news conference late Tuesday, urged people to stay away from the effects of the expected rains that could cause severe flooding across the state.

“This is not the time to return home,” he said.

The Civil Defense Agency’s own emergency warning to displaced residents not to return to flooded areas also emphasized the risk of disease transmission.

Army General Marcelo Zucco, one of the coordinators of rescue operations, told the AP his team was working at full speed ahead of heavy rains forecast to hit the Porto Alegre region later this week. The city received moderate rain on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re hoping the next rain won’t be like what we saw, but we can’t be sure we won’t have trouble ahead,” Zucco said.

“At this time we are focusing on completing the rescue operations and starting logistical support to the people. That is what brings water, medicine, food and transport to the sick to some hospital,” the general added.

He also said that some improvements in conditions that day enabled his men to finally access some areas by land.

Unusually heavy rains have also flooded parts of Uruguay, causing rivers to overflow in the east of the country and displacing nearly 1,000 people, rescuers said, with the help of the military evacuating 200 stranded people. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but rescue services said flash floods damaged a dozen roads and left thousands without power.

By the end of the week, rains in northern Rio Grande do Sul will renew rivers that have already experienced widespread flooding around Pados Lake, where the municipality of Porto Alegre is located, Rio Grande do Sul meteorologist Cías said. For forecasting service there.

“We will remain on this level of caution until at least the end of the month,” he said.

A report by the National Confederation of Municipalities estimated damage at 4.6 billion reais ($930 million) in nearly 80% of Rio Grande do Sul’s municipalities.

Rescue efforts are ongoing in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul after floods left at least 90 dead and more than 130 missing. The capital Porto Alegre has been virtually cut off, with the airport and bus station closed and major roads closed due to floodwaters. (AP Video/Lucas Dumbrace)

Gov. Gov. said that this enormous impact would require something akin to the Marshall Plan for Europe’s post-World War II recovery. Leite said. The state has already asked the central government to waive the debt and create a fund for the southern region.

On Tuesday, Congress passed an order declaring a state of disaster until the end of the year to allow the federal government to quickly set aside money to mitigate the disaster on the Rio Grande do Sul and rebuild flood-affected areas, excluding spending measures. The referendum brought together supporters and opponents of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government.

“There is no limit to the public spending needed to solve the problem of the disaster that is ravaging the state of Rio Grande do Sul today,” Planning and Budget Minister Simone Tebet said in an interview with Radio Gaucha.

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Sá Pessoa report from São Paulo. AP video journalist Lucas Dambres contributed from Porto Alegre and writer Isabelle Debre from Buenos Aires.

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