The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Floods in southern Brazil have destroyed more than 400 cities

Understand the tragedy that is happening in southern Brazil and how it is affecting Brazilian students and the population that lives there
Photo courtesy of Nilza Freitas
Micheline Rosmann in the Porto Alegre river before the flooding, taken on June 12, 2023.
Barreto explains the reality for the people in south Brazil during the flood and the animals that have been rescued. Filmed on May 11.

Southern Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul is experiencing the worst flood in history. In this natural calamity, lives and homes were lost, and it is difficult to say how many people are still missing.

According to the civil defense of Rio Grande do Sul, 148 people were found dead, 124 are still missing and almost 540,000 people have been displaced.

The disaster began April 29, and so far 446 municipalities, roughly 2.1 million people have been affected by the strong storms.

The situation is so dire that most municipalities have no electricity, water and food. Rescue efforts for people and animals are ongoing.

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Neighborhood of Sarandi in Rio Grande do Sul on May 6. (Photo courtesy of Arnaldo Rosmann)

Micheline Rosmann, 33, lawyer and English as a second language student at De Anza College, is from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. Rosmann’s family and friend’s homes were lost to the floods.

“Many people have died, so many others are missing and thousands lost their homes. Among them are my parents, my sister, with her five-year-old daughter, my aunt and many friends,” Rosmann said. “The airport is closed because it is underwater. There is no way I can go to my state to support my loved ones. They have not yet returned to their homes because the water has not yet lowered, but when the water goes down there will be no house to go back to.”

Rosmann’s family lost everything in the flood, so she started a fundraiser to support them.

“I can’t help everyone I love in my beloved land. I am far away, I am not without a roof, but I feel like I am.” She said, “The only way I found to help was by making a fundraiser. It will help them to start over. Imagine if you lost your home, photos, and special items.”

Sara Kerolyn Pereira Barreto, 28, nursing technician, lost her house in the flood. She is helping with the rescue in Rio Grande do Sul.

“Maybe losing everything is the end and also a new beginning for many people. (There were) many clear signs of psychological shock in the eyes of those who rescued and were rescued. Rio Grande do Sul only asks for help, and that we continue to show solidarity to each other,” she said.

Sara Barreto with a rescued dog in Sarandi, Rio Grande do Sul on May 13. (Photo courtesy of Sara Barreto)

“Our submerged houses, garbage, trapped animals, isolated, sick and dead people are everywhere,” she said. “Yet, in the midst of despair, we can see the courage of the residents themselves, people who lost everything, helping to save the lives of animals, relatives, neighbors, lifelong friends and also people they had never met before. My neighborhood may never go back to the way it once was, years of life gone underwater.”

Things are far from improving in Rio Grande do Sul. People still need to be rescued, they need accommodation and food. Cities will need to be rebuilt. Brazilians hope that Rio Grande do Sul remains strong and that the union endures at this moment, Barreto said.

Even with this catastrophe, Barreto remains positive and with faith.

“I’m only sure of one thing … We are human beings and ‘Gauchos’. We will recover and become better people,” she said. “I pray God will continue with us. That we keep on stronger.”

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