The City of Rio do Sul under State of Calamity due to Flood
Rio do Sul (Brazil). The continuous heavy rains that poured down during the entire month of August, caused the biggest flood in Rio do Sul since 1984, when the river Itajaí-ACU swelled up to 15.46 meters. At 8 p.m. last Sept. 9, the river reached 12.96 meters, leaving 85% of the city submerged, as reported to the Civil Defense. Of the 62,000 inhabitants of Rio do Sul, about 10 000 people have fled their homes and 2,000 homeless were sent to 32 evacuation centers organized by the Prefecture.
In Upper Itajaí Valley, the towns of Aurora, Agronomic, Brusque, Ituporanga, President Getulio, Rio South, Laurentino, Lontras and Taio have been declared under state of calamity and the cleaning-up operations in the city are now being planned. The municipality of Rio do Sul has been completely isolated from the rest of the state and the water level of the river, though subsiding, has not yet reached the normal.
The "Maria Auxiliadora" Institute, run by the Salesian Sisters, has made the gym available to families affected by heavy rains and has sheltered more than 50 people. There they found a place to sleep and were provided meals. In most cases, entire families who have lost everything, came only with their clothes. People are still in a state of shock because they do not know where to go, and attentive listening is a way to alleviate their suffering.
In the house of the sisters, patients who were taken came from various parts of the region for dialysis at the Hospital of Rio do Sul and could not return to their hometowns. Cases like that of Mrs. Geneci, trying to help her neighbors and friends, was not able to save her own belongings, manifest solidarity among the simple people of the region.
Apart from opening up the gym to accommodate those affected, there are evacuees in the community of "Maria Auxiliadora", the families of two sisters who are flood victims. And as for solidarity, there is no limit: the chapel of the school has accommodated the wake of two deceased persons from the city, whose parents had no place to take them.
Even if the school of the FMA was not reached by the floods, classes have been suspended until the situation becomes normal. The sisters, along with the members of the Educating Community who were not affected by the rains, are organizing to help the most needy, forming groups to clean the houses, especially of their employees, relatives of the sisters and students' families.
Despite all the complexities and the sad experience in the city, there are many examples of solidarity and mutual aid. Many people are embracing other families, working together as volunteers, organizing donations, helping where it is needed, since the needs are enormous.
Damage assessment is still uncertain, however, it is estimated to be three times greater than that of the floods of 1983 and 1984, when Rio do Sul was smaller and less developed.