Relief efforts continue in Rio de Janeiro State
The death toll in Rio de Janeiro State continues to rise, after deadly rainstorms, never before seen in the region, which brought devastating destruction to Região Serrana, the Central Mountainous region of the State.
This area was originally occupied by large plantations, which in the 19th Century gave place to Swiss and German immigration. With the development of Brazil’s road system, its proximity to the city of Rio de Janeiro turned the region into a main hub for state tourism. Rio inhabitants would vacation or retire in the semi-rural and rural areas of the region, where they could enjoy mild summers and chilly-to-cold winters, surrounded by natural parks and untouched forests. Cities remained small, but tourism undoubtedly attracted internal migration and urban growth.
However, after unusually heavy storms hit this bucolic region, which according to Rio de Janeiro’s Environment State Institute, only occur every 350 years, entire neighborhoods were covered by water and mud, which killed more than 700 people and left at least 13,000 displaced. Streams turned into raging rivers, slopes collapsed and the topography of many mountains changed dramatically. The rich and the poor were both affected, as mansions and simple houses irregularly built on slopes were instantly covered in water and mud. The most affected municipalities were Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis, Petrópolis and São José do Vale do Rio Preto.
With blocked roads and limited electricity and telephone services, the tasks of rescuing victims, burying the dead and providing shelter to those who lost everything, has become increasingly difficult. According to the Rev. Ivaldo Correia, former vicar of Calvary Church in Nova Friburgo, and the current diocesan treasurer of Rio de Janeiro, local parishioners have lost their houses and are being sheltered by the church. In Petrópolis, it is reported that employees and relatives of the IEAB’s Anglican School and parish in the Araras district, were affected by the storms which hit the neighboring Cuiabá Valley hard.
IEAB and the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro thank all who have been supporting relief efforts in Rio. Bishop Filadelfo Oliveira reported that on the 16th, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, contacted him to assure all people in Rio of his prayers and support. The Anglican Communion News Service has been covering the disaster since the beginning and forwarding IEAB’s appeals. Thus, more and more friends in Christ have been finding ways of reaching the Diocese of Rio and expressing their support.
The Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, with which Rio de Janeiro has a companionship process, has sent a plea to all North Georgia Episcopalians, asking them to “receive offerings in support of the Brazilian relief efforts on Sunday, Jan. 23, and/or Sunday, Jan.30.” It’s Department of Finance has also provided an easy way for people to give donations online. It can be accessed here.
A Brazilian account was also set up by the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro and is ready to receive deposits (including wire transfers from abroad):
Alternatively, donations can also be sent to IEAB’s International account.
East 53rd Street/ 16th Floor
New York, NY 100432
Holder: Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
Swift Code: CITIUS33
Funds transferred for relief efforts will be used entirely to help victims rebuild their lives. The IEAB is working with its partner relief agents to ensure that those donations will be sent to those in need. Some of the affected people worked in farming, and have lost even their source of income. It is not known if it will be possible for them to go back to areas which were formerly thought to be safe. Those affected by the flooding all need clothing, food and basic hygiene suppliesl. Rio de Janeiro’s diocesan offices have been receiving those kinds of donations as well.
Family pets and livestock have also been displaced and separated from their families. Because of the health hazards posed by such a sudden increase in homeless animals, and because of our call to be good stewards of all creation, the Anglican Network for the Care of Creation, headed by the Rev. Josi Saldanha, is working with local partners to help farmers relocate their cattle, chickens, and other farm animals, and thus offer some hope of re-establishing their livelihood as farmers. It is also receiving donations to help rescue and reunite pets with their families, or, when that is not possible, find new homes for them.
Rio de Janeiro Anglicans ask their brothers and sisters abroad to pray especially for the repose of the souls of the hundreds of people who lost their lives in the recent floods, for their relatives, for people left homeless living in shelters, for relief efforts in Rio de Janeiro, for government officials as they discern how to deal with reconstruction, and for the church communities in the area, especially Calvary, St. Michael and All Angels and the Anglican School of Araras. The IEAB also asks for prayers for other victims of similar catastrophes in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Phillipines. Pray that we may have wisdom in learning how to respect, care for and protect this planet, and that we will find ways to prevent such tragic loss from happening in future catastophes.
Communications WG Member