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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - There was no shortage of announcements. Since last week, meteorologists were predicting heavy downpours for Belo Horizonte and the metropolitan area. The Civil Defense warned that people should avoid areas that typically flood, remain at home or leave their homes in case of any indication of ground movement or water rise.

Last Friday, when the capital of Minas Gerais recorded the rainiest day in 110 years, Elisangela da Silva, 39, was among the people who had to rush out when water and mud flooded her home.

"I lost everything under that clay, I only salvaged my . . .

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