Floods in Brazil | Billions promised to rebuild, threat of more rain

(Porto Alegre) The Brazilian government promised Thursday to release some nine billion euros for the reconstruction of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, a region devastated by unprecedented deadly floods and under the threat of new rains.


Posted at 7:54 p.m.

Mauricio RABUFFETTI

France Media Agency

At least 107 people died, 754 were injured and 134 are missing following the torrential rains which fell in this southern region all last week, according to the Civil Defense report published Thursday evening.

Around 1.7 million people were affected and more than 327,000 evacuated after the bad weather, a natural disaster that experts and the government link to climate change.

While rescue teams are still struggling to save residents and animals trapped by the waters in a desolate setting, Head of State Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva chaired a meeting in Brasilia to discuss responses to the tragedy.

The federal government has decided to inject “resources of the order of 50 billion reais (around 13 billion Canadian dollars) into Rio Grande do Sul,” announced Finance Minister Fernando Haddad.

The measures adopted prioritize the granting of loans to help affected workers, businesses and municipalities.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will allocate around one billion euros of resources “for job protection, business support and infrastructure reconstruction projects”, announced the Brazilian president of the institution, Ilan Goldfajn.

“Caramelo saved!” »

These floods affected the state capital, Porto Alegre and its 1.4 million inhabitants, but also more than 400 localities in the region. Some 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Rescue teams resumed their search on Thursday for people trapped in their homes or reluctant to leave for fear of looting.

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PHOTO ANSELMO CUNHA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Rescuers are also mobilizing to save animals, like this horse that local media showed alone on the roof of a submerged house, in Canoas, a suburb of Porto Alegre, and rescued using inflatable boats.

Named Caramelo by locals, his rescue went viral on social media, and not only in Brazil. “Caramelo was saved!” “, exulted on X the first lady Rosangela da Silva, known as “Janja”.

Musk contributes

Another gigantic task for local authorities is strengthening logistics in order to speed up the distribution of essential goods to disaster victims, while more rain is forecast from Friday.

“The focus is always on rescues […] but we are working very intensively on the delivery of humanitarian aid,” said Sabrina Ribas, spokesperson for Civil Defense.

These efforts are expected to be hampered “to some extent” in the coming days given the forecast for “heavy rain” from Friday, she warned.

Another obstacle to efforts: fake news. The government has asked the federal police to open an investigation into “possible crimes” linked to the dissemination of “fake news”.

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PHOTO CARLOS FABAL, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

In a sports complex in the center of the regional capital, a shelter welcomes some 450 victims – as well as around forty dogs and a little pig. The victims spent the night on mattresses placed on the floor of a gymnasium.

Volunteers sort duvets, warm clothes and even baby diapers on site. “I didn’t lose anything, but I didn’t feel good staying at home. Helping is a human thing,” says Tauane Bassoler, 26, while folding clothes.

Water also rose in state prisons, which requested federal aid after running out of drinking water, according to the NGO Criminal Justice Network. In Charqueadas prison, a group of inmates had to be transferred to upper floors.

Gestures of solidarity also came from abroad. Pope Francis sent 100,000 euros to help care for evacuees, according to the Vatican News website.

Elon Musk announced on his X network that his company Starlink was going to donate a thousand internet terminals to the rescue teams. “I hope the best for the Brazilian people,” added the billionaire, recently entangled in a standoff with Brazilian justice.

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