Raining in Rio (More mudslides!)

7 Apr

It does seem I may have picked the perfect moment to traverse oceans. England has been dry and calm over Easter weekend, only a cold wind to grumble about, but the bouts of sunshine have at least given the illusion that the tides are turning and that the snow which has been covering this place for the past three months and finally gone back to where it came from.

There’s certainly no possibility of using the words ‘dry’ and ‘calm’ in Rio de Janeiro right now. For the past few days there has been continual rainfall, of the tropical variety. I have just been reading some of the reports which are putting the death toll at a minimum of 72 people but most likely rising to over 100.

The majority of casualties have come from mudslides occurring all over the city (Rio’s hills are full of favelas and improvised housing), particularly in the Niteroi and Sao Goncalo areas. It’s the second time this year that such fateful mudslides have occurred. In January, at least 85 people died after a series of torrential rain.

Rainfall was 11 inches over two days starting on Monday afternoon. I have no idea how much rain this actually is, but it is some kind of record so must be a hell of a lot. More rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday.

It will be interesting to see how Rio deals with this event. They are one of the main cities for the 2014 World Cup and are also the hosts for the 2016 Olympics. I wouldn’t be surprised if it saw the Government step up the need to shift its poor citizens from their hill-based favelas to alternative housing. I almost feel certain this will happen in some way, though I would have major doubts over how they would find alternative housing for so many people. As well as causing so much disruption to the city (residents have been told to stay in their homes, children are not able to go to school), the rain has also caused some power shortages, especially in Barra da Tijuca where much of the Olympic activity will be taking place. As the first Olympics in South America there will be so much weight on Rio to excel as hosts and so I have no doubts they will take many proactive actions.

More links on the flooding:

Big Floods in Brazil (Euronet / 7th April 2010)
Flooding in Rio de Janeiro (BBC News / 7th April 2010)
April 2010 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides (Wikipedia)

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