Rosinha Garotinho, the mayor of the town of Campos de Goytacazes, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, says that most of the families near the area known as Três Vendas where a highway-dike holding back waters from the Muriaé River burst have been sent to shelters run by the city.
According to Civil Defense officials, some 1,200 families live in the area, around 4,000 people.
“We have set up tents for them. Some people do not want to leave, but we are explaining just how dangerous the situation is and have soldiers and firemen assisting in the removal, along with 22 trucks that will transport people and their belongings. We have set up a first aid station on high ground with a staff of health care providers,” declared Rosinha.
Thirty soldiers and thirty firemen are setting up some 250 tents (each one can accommodate six people). Civil Defense authorities have also taken over a public school in a neighboring town to accommodate victims.
At the same time, the Red Cross reports that trucks loaded with donations (basic food baskets, bed clothing, cleaning materials and drinking water) have been arriving in the area.
Campos dos Goytacazes was already having serious problems with the Paraíba do Sul River raging along at eleven meters above flood levels. At least 600 people had already been forced to leave their homes before the Muriaé River highway-dike burst on Thursday.
According to Civil Defense, in spite of the critical situation only one death due to the rains and flooding has been reported in the region.
The dike that burst is located on the BR-356 highway, part of which was washed away, and the accident this week (December 5) is in the same place where the same dike burst in 2008. Civil Defense officials called for repairs on the highway-dike this December after problems with infiltration were discovered. It is reported that repairs were made.
Civil Defense authorities in the city of São Paulo decreed a state of alert and put the neighborhoods of Butantã, Lapa, Perus, Pirituba-Jaraguá and Freguesia de Ó under a state of attention.
The state Emergency Management Center (CGE) declared that areas of weather instability in the interior of the state were moving into the capital. In Barueri, a city in the great São Paulo metropolitan region, there was a hail storm at 6:30 pm.
The weather bureau reports that heavy rain is expected today (Friday, December 6) with possible flooding in the late afternoon and early evening. The forecast for the next two days is rain with thunder storms
Drought in South
Meanwhile the country’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, raised the number of municipalities in a state of emergency due to drought from 44 to 54. So it goes.
All this is due to La Niña, in the South Pacific (“all this” is drought in the extreme south of Brazil and above-average rainfall in most of the rest of the country).
The Rio Grande do Sul state Civil Defense says that the number of people affected negatively by the lack of rain has risen from 248,000 to over 302,000 and that the number of municipalities considered disaster areas is 29. Corn crops statewide have been reduced by over 25%.
However, in one of the worst hit areas, known as Frederico Westphalen, population 29,000, soy and corn crops are down over 30%, fruit production will be down 20%, tobacco down 15% and pasture land reduced by 15%. Municipal authorities say that water rationing is in place and that most of the population has to depend on water shipped in by truck.