So if you haven't already heard, the southern state of Santa Catarina in Brazil has been completely devastated by storms and flooding. 78,000 were left homeless, 116 people died, and 31 are missing. Some of the images during the worst days are terrifying: homes literally floating away, mudslides destroying communities, and highways crumbling away. It has become the Brazilian Katrina. The major difference is that unlike the American South, which is predominantly black and impoverished, the Brazilian South, particularly Santa Catarina, is mostly white and middle class.
Brazilians, being a very compassionate people, have shown their solidarity and have donated over 12 million reais to civil authorities in Santa Catarina, as well as tons of donations for the homeless. I've seen food and supply drives all over town, including in my own building. The Brazilian government estimates that it will cost R$350,000,000 just to rebuild one of the local ports, and R$270,000,000 to reconstruct the state highways. The humanitarian disaster alone will cost millions.
I was in Santa Catarina in January, mostly in Floripa, though I spent a day exploring the interior, especially Blumenau, one of the worst hit cities. I was struck by how homey and charming the whole area was, a beacon of beer and German architecture. I just fell in love with the city, even though it's small, very hot, and not very close to the beach. Seeing it under water was both terrifying and heartbreaking.
Though summer is the rainy season in this part of Brazil, it's safe to say that this is a disaster, and dare I say, a global warming disaster. A year or so ago, Santa Catarina was also the only state in Brazil to be hit by a hurricane, even though hurricanes are not natural in Brazil.
If you're in Brazil and interested in helping the flood victims, click here and here. Let's hope that unlike the American government, which completely bungled the Katrina disaster, the Santa Catarina authorities will use the money and donations wisely and appropriately.