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Emergency in Brazil


January 17, 2011

The number of dead from the severe flooding and mudslides has risen to over 500 in the mountainous region of Serrana, in the area around Rio de Janeiro and in the Diocese of Petropolis where destructive rains continue to fall. The amount of rain that usually falls in an entire month fell in the span of 24 hours. According to the Brazilian Civil Defense, the tragedy left more than 10,000 people homeless, and an unknown number missing. President Dilma Rousseff called the situation “very dramatic”. The governor of the state of Rio, Sergio Cabral said, “What worries us most now is what will happen next because the weather reports are not reassuring”.


The Bishop of the Diocese of Petropolis, Don Filippo Santoro, visited the Valley of Cuiabá in Itaipava, in the municipality of Petropolis, one of the regions hardest hit by the flooding. He was accompanied by Monsignor José Maria Pereira and Don Rogerio Dias da Silva, the pastor of Cuiabà. During his visit, the Bishop showed his solidarity with the victims of the disaster by offering to host those left homeless in the parish buildings of the Catholic churches of the area.


“The situation is chaotic”, the Bishop stated, “four communities of the Rio de Janeiro region, Petropolis, Areal, São José do Rio Preto e Teresópolis, were hit by the rains, leaving thousands homeless on top of the hundreds of dead. Many areas are isolated by the rivers. I know that people are alive there, but it is difficult to reach them. Together with the firefighters, the priests and communities are trying to help everyone”. All the parishes of the diocese are working, and all the churches are welcoming the evacuees offering emergency care and basic necessities.


The AVSI Foundation, an Italian non-profit NGO, which has been in Brazil for 30 years, is collecting money to support the Diocese of Petropolis to help families affected by the floods and to rebuild the region of Cuiabá.


Photos from the disaster zone: AVSI Flickr



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