Floods Kill at Least 75 in Brazil

Governor says his state will need a Marshall Plan to rebuild
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2024 11:40 AM CDT
Updated May 5, 2024 6:03 PM CDT
Floods Swamp Southern Brazil
Residents evacuate from a neighborhood flooded by heavy rains, in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Massive floods in Brazil's southern Rio Grande do Sul state have killed at least 75 people over the last seven days, and another 103 were reported missing, local authorities said Sunday. At least 155 people were injured, while damage from the rains forced more than 88,000 people from their homes. Approximately 16,000 took refuge in schools, gymnasiums, and other shelters, the AP reports. The floods left a wake of devastation, including landslides, washed-out roads, and collapsed bridges across the state. Operators reported electricity and communications cuts. More than 800,000 people are without a water supply, according to the civil defense agency.

On Saturday evening, residents in the town of Canoas stood up to their shoulders in muddy water and formed a human chain to pull boats carrying people to safety, according to video shared by UOL news network. The Guaiba river reached a record level of 17.5 feet at 8am local time Sunday, surpassing levels during a historic 1941 deluge. "I repeat and insist: the devastation to which we are being subjected is unprecedented," state Gov. Eduardo Leite said Sunday. He had previously said that the state will need a "kind of 'Marshall Plan' to be rebuilt." Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in Rio Grande do Sul on Sunday, per the AP.

The downpour started Monday and was expected to last through Sunday. In some areas, such as valleys, mountain slopes, and cities, more than 11.8 inches of rain fell in less than a week, according to the National Institute of Meteorology. The heavy rains were the fourth environmental disaster in a year, following floods in July, September, and November 2023 that killed 75 people. Weather across South America is affected by El Niño, a periodic, naturally occurring event that warms surface waters. In Brazil, El Niño has historically caused droughts in the north and intense rainfall in the south. This year, the impacts have been particularly dramatic. Scientists say extreme weather is happening more frequently due to climate change. This story has been updated with the latest death toll.

(More Brazil floods stories.)

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