18,400 Displaced in Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil

Levels of the Uruguay River are so high in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has declared a state of emergency for at least 131 municipalities. Declaring a state of emergency means that federal funds can be made available to local governments for aid and relief.

Torrential rain led to high river levels. The ensuing floods have displaced 18,400 people spread across the 157 towns and cities.

According to the Defesa Civil of Rio Grande do Sul, most of those who fled their homes were being sheltered by relatives and friends. Around 1,300 have been given shelter in public buildings such as sports arenas or schools.

The worst affected areas are Iraí and Barra do Guarita, mostly as a result of extremely high levels of the Uruguay River. Some local media reports claim levels have not been this high since 1983. River levels rose so rapidly few had time to prepare.

Rio Grande do Sul floods
Rio Grande do Sul floods, July 2014. Photo: Sacha Rochele Núñez/ Secom RS

Such high and rapidly rising levels have brought about some suspicion of the opening of flood gates in 3 dams on the Uruguay River, upstream to the city of Iraí. There is also some discussion in Brazil about whether the torrential rainfall seen eralier this week was a result of “El Nino”.

 

Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Floods in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti

River levels have now started to recede in some areas, including Iraí, and for the time being the rain has stopped. Some residents have been able to return to their homes to begin the clean up.

Flood damage in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Flood damage in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Flood damage in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti
Flood damage in Iraí , Brazil. Foto: Fernando Sucolotti

It was just 2 weeks ago that areas arond Iraí, Rio Grande do Sul state saw almost exactly the same rapid rise and fall of the Uruguay river levels, as can be seen in the photos below from Missiones Online.

Floods in Irai, Brazil, late June 2014
Floods in Irai, Brazil, late June 2014. Photo: Missiones Online