Intense rains over the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil’s South Region have once again caused floods in several cities. Since September 8, 2011, floods, flash floods and landslides have hit 96 cities in the region and, according to mainstream news, nearly 1 million people have been affected.
In 2008, the State of Santa Catarina went through a similar tragedy, as reported by Global Voices. From then on, certain preventive measures were expected to be taken by the responsible authorities, but after three deaths and more than 15,000 relocated to provisional shelters, it is clear that little was accomplished.
The city of Itajai, one of the most affected, has had 80% of its urban area occupied by water from the Itajaí-Mirim and Itajaí-Açu rivers – similarly to the 2008 disaster.
Internet users utilized online tools to expose the tragedy’s dimension. In one video posted on Youtube on September 8, damage in the city of Brusque is shown:
Another netizen registered the catastrophe’s effects in the city of Rio do Sul, one of the most severely hit by the rains, which still remains completely isolated from other areas:
Blumenau, the third biggest city in Santa Catarina, also suffered with the rains; this Internet user recorded the moment in which a truck driver decided to confront the Itajai-Acu river's high water levels, causing even more damage:
City councils in the affected regions have also begun to utilize online tools to help the local population. In Itajai, the blog Desabrigados (Homeless) [pt] was created so that residents could list the name of missing people and the place where they were being sheltered.
After a decrease in rainfall allowed the start of the recovery operation, several Internet users began to mobilize through the social network Twitter, via the hashtag #chuvaemSC (#raininSC).
Despite the widespread sense of solidarity among residents, a certain level of indignation remains among some. This phenomenon was no novelty to Brazilians. In the beginning of 2011, a similar catastrophe hit the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro, claiming over 500 fatalities.
In an account published [pt] on Luis Nassif’s blog, Sergio Lamarca points to the development of residential and commercial areas in regions where the balance between nature and economical activities are fragile. He further complements:
(…) o desafio de daqui para frente em caso de que a cada ano ou dois anos termos uma enchente e ficarmos 15 a 20 dias com a economia da região paralisada, considero que medidas proativas devem ser tomadas. Para isso a sociedade organizada, as universidades e o poder público devem juntar os esforços para dar uma solução para quem vai viver nesta região nos próximos 30 anos.