By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The heavy rains that have fallen on the state of Rio de Janeiro since Friday, November 11th have caused mudslides, roadblocks and triggered the warning system in the mountainside city of Petropolis. Problems have also been reported in Teresopolis and the coastal region of Angra dos Reis.
According to the Federal Highway Police (PRF), the main highway leading up to Teresopolis from Rio de Janeiro city was closed for three hours on Sunday due to a mudslide that interrupted the flow of vehicles.
In the Rio-Santos (BR-101), half of the highway had to be cordoned off due to mudslides near Angra dos Reis, and the area is on alert. Sirens, placed around the region after the devastating mudslides of 2013 which killed dozens of people, have not yet been used but officials ask residents to remain alert and try to remain out of dangerous areas.
In the mountain town of Petrópolis, the alert siren system was turned on Sunday night, alerting residents. Two people were reported dead, after a mudslide with rocks and debris totally destroyed three houses in the neighborhood of Quitandinha. In the summer of 2013 28 people were killed in the region due to mudslides.
“The entire area is very unstable. There are still rocks being dislodged from up above,” stated Coronel Rafael Simão of Rio’s Civil Defense Unit during a TV interview with Globo on Monday. According to Simão approximately 150 defense personnel are evaluating the area to see if it is safe for residents to remain in their homes.
In Nova Friburgo, a popular mountain resort town, more than seven landslides were reported by residents, damaging several houses in the tiny enclave.
In Rio’s metropolitan area, the rain has also caused havoc. In Duque de Caxias, ten families had to leave their homes due to rising water from the heavy rains.