The latest reports from the civil defense of Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais, where above-normal amounts of rain have been falling since October, is that 71 municipalities are in a state of emergency, 9,864 people have had to leave their homes and an additional 500 are considered homeless.
The death toll attributed to the rains has now reached eight. Overflowing rivers and landslides have blocked various state and federal highways making it difficult to supply and assist disaster areas in the state.
According to the governor, Antonio Anastasia, who visited disaster areas yesterday, “The situation is very grave, we are shocked by what we have seen.”
Anastasia added that some 50 million reais (US$ 27,000) was spent in Minas Gerais on disaster prevention, an amount far below what the state requested, but he praised the performance of the state’s civil defense saying they had prevented an even greater tragedy and calling their operations “positive.”
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, 72 hours of heavy rainfall in the north and northwest regions of the state have now left six municipalities in a state of emergency.
In Santo Antonio de Pádua there are 12,000 people who are considered displaced and 1,200 homeless due to flooding and landslides. Another 5,000 people had to leave their homes in Itaperuna. It should be recalled that exactly a year ago rainstorms in the same area killed over 900 people.
In the south of Brazil, the big problem, however is lack of rain. 54 cities in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul have now declared state of emergency. This Thursday morning (January 5) anole, seven new cities were added to the list published by the state’s Civil Defense: Redentora, Tupanciretã, São Paulo das Missões, Travesseiro, Boa Vista do Incra, Toropi and Nova Boa Vista.
Another 29 cities have already sent a Preliminary Notice of Disaster (Nopred), the last step before declaring state of emergency. In all, according to the Civil Defense, 302,717 people were affected by the lack of rain.
After an uproar in the Brazilian press Brazil’s minister of National Integration, Fernando Bezerra Coelho, denies benefiting his home state, Pernambuco, in the distribution of funds for the prevention of natural disasters.
The ministry headed by FBC, as the minister is known, controls a Prevention and Preparation for Disasters fund that is run by the National Secretary for Civil Defense (Sedec). The total amount released by Sedec in 2011 for disaster prevention was 216 million reais (US$ 117 million). Out of that total, 98 million reais (US$ 53 million) went to Pernambuco
FBC claims that any analysis of disaster prevention spending cannot be based exclusively on Sedec outlays, pointing out that approval of such spending went through the Presidential Chief of Staff (Casa Civil) and the Ministry of Planning and that additional funding for disaster prevention is distributed by the Ministry of Cities.
As for the disproportionate amounts of Sedec funds going to Pernambuco, the ministry cited the floods of 2010 in the state that left 18,000 families homeless and 80,000 displaced, destroying hospitals, schools and bridges.
According to FBC, Pernambuco got more money because it had urgent needs and presented projects that were ready to be undertaken. The minister added that the decisions to fund projects were based on technical criteria.