By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Extreme rain has devastated cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro, of the Baixada (Lowland) area. The people in the county of Duque de Caxias, especially in the city of Xerém, are the ones who have been suffering the most, after two days of floods and devastation.
Around 2,611 families have been displaced, losing their homes and possessions, and one person died in Xerém. The city has had a lot of attention because of the devastation, including famous Brazilian pagode singer Zeca Pagodinho, who owns a farm in the area.
Zeca and his family have been in the city since the beginning of the floods, helping families and campaigning for donations of food, clothes and other essentials.
He told Jornal do Brasil on January 3rd, the first day of rain: “I’ve been here for twenty years and I have never seen anything like this. Up there the situation is really bad, there are missing children, families stuck. We’ve been here since 6AM in the morning helping, but it’s bad.”
In total, nine counties have been affected: Duque de Caxias, Paracambi, Mangaratiba, Belford Roxo, Nova Iguaçu, Seropédica, Angra dos Reis, Teresópolis and Petrópolis.
The state government has announced that R$5,000 will be given to the 300 families who have lost furniture or household appliances, along with a project to prevent such damage in the future.
The project will see a clean up in the street of the areas affected, with proper basic cleaning services and trash pick-up, a measure to unblock the rivers, and a plan to build dams and containing structures in Duque de Caxias and Xerém. The emergency project has the objective to make the areas safer from floods and landslides, with an estimated cost of R$170 millions.
Last April heavy floods caused eight landslides in Teresópolis and left five people dead, fifteen injured and hundreds homeless. That had been the worst seen in the area since January 2011, when the mountainous region of Rio state, known as Região Serrana was devastated by floods and mudslides, leaving over 900 people dead and missing.
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