January 5, 2009
In southern Brazil, 1.5 million people have been affected by the worst floods in recent history. In some areas, rain has been pouring for two months and the water level is nine meters higher than normal. The governor of Santa Catarina, the area with the most severe damage, says it is facing the “worst weather tragedy of its history.”
The heavy rainfall in Santa Catarina affected close to 60 cities, causing heavy landslides through the entire Itajai Valley. At least 118 people are reported dead and more than 78,700 people have evacuated their homes. Another 150,000 people have been left without electricity.
Flood waters and landslide debris have cut off several towns in the region and water purification problems have led to water rationing. A state of emergency has been declared in the city of Blumenau.
Despite this, the state Civil Defense has called upon the population to stop their donations. Thanks to the solidarity of the Brazilian people, including church congregations, the warehouses and centers of distributions are full.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a global faith-based alliance of churches and related organizations, is ready to respond when the warehouses are empty and rehabilitation and reconstruction begin. ACT will work through Coordenadoria EcumÃƒªnica de ServiÃƒ§o and the Lutheran World Federation, with the support of FundaÃƒ§Ãƒ£o Luterana de Diaconia.
The local authorities have not asked the international community for assistance. The Civil Defense of Santa Catarina has already received US $7.6 million from Brazilians. Churches that ACT cooperates with have requested the congregations to earmark the collection from the Sunday service to the emergency in Santa Catarina.
The Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil will be one of the implementers and the Vale do ItajaÃƒ Synod has received more than 100 tons of food, clothes, drinking water, cleaning and hygiene materials. “The mobilization of the Brazilian communities is very impressive,” said the Synodal pastor, Rev. Mariane Beyer Ehrat.