Brazil – 37 Dead as Flood Situation Worsens in Rio Grande Do Sul

The flood situation has deteriorated in Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, where the governor, Eduardo Leite, has now declared a state of emergency.

Flood damage in Roca Sales, n Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil, September 2023. Photo: Government of Rio Grande do Sol

Heavy rain fell in the state from 02 September. As of 05 September, at least 4 people had lost their lives and around 350 people were displaced from their homes.

The state’s Civil Defence warned of further flooding. Rising rivers, swollen by further heavy rain, resulted in severe flooding in multiple parts of the state, in particular in the Caí and Taquari river basins.

Visiting affected areas on 06 September, Governor Eduardo Leite described the situation as “devastating”.

“We saw communities completely submerged. It’s heartbreaking, there’s a lot of destruction. I had to hold back the tears at times. And we know that more deaths can be seen. This situation hurts and touches us. But we must stand firm to give all the support to the population”, said the governor.

The state government has so far confirmed 37 fatalities, including 14 in Muçum, 9 in Roca Sales, 3 in Lajeado, 2 in Estrela, 2 in Ibiraiaras, 3 in Cruzeiro do Sul, 1 in Mato Castelhano, 1 in Passo Fundo, 1 in Encantado and 1 in Santa Tereza.

State Civil Defence said floods and storms have impacted communities in 79 municipalities. A total of 56,787 people have been affected, with 5,894 people displaced.

Governor Eduardo Leite assessing the flood damage in Roca Sales, Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil, September 2023. Photo: Government of Rio Grande do Sol

Rainfall and Rivers

According to figures provided by INMET, Brazil’s, in a 24-hour period to 04 September, several location recorded more than 130 mm of rain, including:

  • Cruz Alta 160.8 mm
  • Passo Fundo 153.6 mm
  • Vacaria 146.6 mm
  • Cambara Do Sul 144.2 mm
  • Serafina Corrêa 143.0 mm
  • Bom Jesus 138.4 mm
  • Ibiruba 133.2 mm
  • Lagoa Vermelha 131.6 mm

The Caí river has exceeded the highest warning level at Passo Montenegro and Barca do Caí. Meanwhile the Taquari has reached above the highest danger mark at Taquari and Muçum, among others.

Caí river levels at Passo Montenegro. Image: Serviço Geológico do Brasil
Caí river levels at Barca do Caí. Image: Serviço Geológico do Brasil
Taquari river levels at Muçum. Image: Serviço Geológico do Brasil
Taquari river levels at Taquari. Image: Serviço Geológico do Brasil

Santa Catarina

Severe weather has also impacted areas of the neighbouring state of Santa Catarina, where Brazil’s national Civil Defence report 20 municipalities affected and 1 fatality.

The state Civil Defence reported storms brought heavy rainfall and strong winds from 02 to 04 September, including rainfall accumulations of up to 150 mm on the South Coast and wind gusts of 122 km/h in Serra and 113 km/h in Xanxerê. A suspected tornado was reported in the community of Anta Morta in the municipality of Santa Cecília.