By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The rain that has fallen across the state of Rio de Janeiro since this past weekend has put some municipalities in a state of alert for floods and landslides. In the past, the mountainous regions of the state have faced deadly landslides due to rains during the summer season.
The municipalities of Petropolis and Nova Friburgo, popular locations in the Northern mountains of Rio for tourists seeking alternatives to the beachside, have registered mudslides and floods this week.
Petropolis’ mayor declared a state of emergency in the region after registering 790 reports of mudslides and floods in the past five days. More than 450 people have been removed from their homes due to the constant rainfall. In Nova Friburgo landslides caused the destruction of a school and a health clinic.
“They are not heavy rainstorms, but constant, weak to moderate, rain, which for safety officials are the most dangerous because the soil begins to loosen up,” says Petropolis Civil Defense Secretary, Rafael Simão.
The mountainous region of the State of Rio de Janeiro, known as Região Serrana, is particularly vulnerable to landslides and flooding. The region was devastated by one of Brazil’s worst natural disaster in January 2011, when landslides killed more than 900 people.
About 30,000 survivors were displaced across the region. In 2013 landslides once again were reported in the region, killing more than thirty people and forcing thousands into shelters.
Weather forecasts for the region are calling for steady rain until at least next Tuesday, January 26th.