June 23, 2024

Brazil announces aid to families as Lula visits flooded south

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Nearly a quarter-of-a-million families impacted by devastating floods in Brazil’s south will receive about $1,000 each towards replacing what they lost, the government said Wednesday.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the stricken Rio Grande do Sul region for a third time since the flooding began almost two weeks ago, killing 149 people and displacing more than half-a-million.

More than 100 people are still missing in the ruins of hundreds of inundated cities and towns, where tens of thousands of inhabitants have been forced to seek refuge at makeshift shelters.  

The full extent of the damage has yet to be determined, but the government has already pledged $10 billion for the region, and the BRICS group of countries another billion. 

“We will spare no effort to help people rebuild their lives,” Lula said Wednesday in the hard-hit city of Sao Leopoldo, north of the flooded state capital Porto Alegre. 

The government said it would give 5,100 reais (nearly $1,000) to each of about 240,000 affected families.

It also announced plans to purchase new homes from the private sector to give to victims currently scattered between shelters and relatives.

There are some 14,000 housing units under construction in the region, said the government, and 600 recently completed units. 

Properties seized after court rulings for non-payment will also be acquired for flood victims.

The Brazilian Football Confederation said Wednesday it was suspending matches in the Brasileiro championship due to the catastrophe.

Floodwater had filled the stadiums and training facilities of Porto Alegre’s two main football clubs, Internacional and Gremio.

Intermittent rains continued to fall in the region Wednesday, and at least seven rivers remained above flood levels.

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