With 36 confirmed dead in the coastal region of the state of São Paulo, the scene of torrential rains since Saturday, the mayor of São Sebastião, one of the hardest hit cities, admits that it is not yet possible to “assess the scale of the damage”. For now, “the situation is very chaotic” and rescue teams are trying to gain access to various locations, said Felipe Augusto, in a live broadcast on social networks on Sunday night. “Several houses collapsed, many people are still under the rubble.”
While Augusto was describing the situation, the governor of São Paulo, Tarcísio de Freitas, declared a state of public calamity in the cities of Ubatuba, São Sebastião, Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba (all on the north coast of São Paulo) and Bertioga. “Unfortunately, we are going to have a lot of deaths,” he told the newspaper. Newspaper the head of Civil Protection of São Paulo, Colonel Hengeel Ricardo Pereira, stating that the area of Barra do Sahy, in São Sebastião, is the most affected by the storm.
By the end of Sunday night, at least 228 people had been left homeless and 338 had been evacuated from their homes for security reasons. Augusto was aware of dozens of missing people in São Sebastião, where some 50 houses collapsed and were swept away by the waters. Among the deaths already confirmed, 35 took place in this city, 197 kilometers from the city of São Paulo, and a seven-year-old child died in a landslide in Ubatuba (220 kilometers from São Paulo).
The greatest difficulty in rescue and rescue operations has been flying over the most affected areas, at the same time that many roads suffered damage and were closed (the Civil Protection of São Paulo has called for people to avoid traveling to the north). Forecasts continue to be for rain and bad weather until Friday.
According to the state government, in less than 24 hours the rain exceeded 600 millimeters – 683 in Bertioga and 627 in São Sebastião, rainfall values that are among the highest ever recorded in Brazil in such a short space of time and without being in causes a tropical cyclone.
The rain is also conditioning the water supply, as some treatment plants were affected by the rains that dragged logs and a lot of mud. In case of need, tanker trucks are already prepared to supply hospitals and the most affected areas, recommending the population to save water.
The Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, interrupted the Carnival weekend he was spending in Bahia and will visit the affected areas this Monday.