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Brazil: Worst flooding in living memory

World Vision
Publication date

World Vision is mounting a major relief effort in Palmeres municipality after a World Vision rapid assessment team found that the floods had reached a height of 4 meters above street level, the highest in living memory.
World Vision Brazil is calling for support from the World Vision global partnership and is mobilizing Brazilian society at the regional and national levels.

A truckload of household survival kits have already been distributed to 260 families in acute need.

Palmares has a population of almost 60,000 people and now has the appearance of a war zone. It is currently under the control of the military. The heavy rains overflowed the river Una just above the town, with the result that:

  • 5,384 people (including 3,000 children under 14) are displaced from their homes
  • 2,421 homes are damaged
  • 385 homes have been destroyed

Palmares is covered in a layer of contaminated mud up to a half meter deep. Heavy machinery is clearing the rubble and mud from the streets. The hospital has been destroyed and 5 cases of leptospirose and cholera have already been recorded.

It is estimated that 20 percent of the victims of the flooding are from rural areas where, in addition to the loss of property and household goods, growing crops in the field have also been destroyed. There is a need for seeds to replant, but the exact situation is difficult to evaluate since all road access has been cut by mudslides and damaged bridges.

Palmares is located 120 kilometers to the south of Recife. The rivers Panelas, Camivou, Pirangy e Verdinho all flow into the river Una above the town of Palmares.

World Vision's Area Development Project (ADP) known as BREJAL, in Maceió, was badly affected by the flooding. Serguem Silva, the national director for World Vision Brazil, was in the region last week and saw some of the damage. This week, Serguem will meet with government officials to discuss World Vision's response in the region.

Jon White, of the World Vision Brazil relief team, reports that many of the children World Vision is currently helping in ADP BREJAL are suffering from respiratory diseases caused by the humidity of their houses, fungus and mud.

The World Vision Brazil relief team in Maceió is now distributing mattresses, water filters, blankets, and medicines. The victims did not want to leave their homes, even though they are infected by rats, snakes and, recently, an enormous number of scorpions.

A World Vision team which returned to the affected area is putting together a proposal to address the needs for rebuilding 38 homes for sponsored children and repairing some 1,300 others.