Brazilian Floods

Brazilian Floods Jan 2011

Taken from "Follow up to Special Edition - February 2011" Newsletter:


As some of you know, Noel and I are over here in the UK at the moment, to take part in the funeral of our very dear friend Billy Goggins; as such we have been removed from the immediate situation

of the flooding in Petropolis, near our home.  So I asked Mark and Vivian to give us an up-date of how things are now.   This came from Vivian this morning:

“The rains which touched the State of Rio de Janeiro, principally the mountainous region, killed hundreds of people and left thousands more homeless and without shelter in the first days of 2011.

The scene is one of total destruction, especially in the towns of New Friburgo, Teresópolis and Petrópolis.  These famous tourist areas have been invaded by water, mud and wreckage.   Basic services such as running water, electricity and telephone disrupted, with rescue workers often unable to reach some of the most affected areas and everywhere a climate of despair reigns.  The current number of dead has reached 870, with 429 registered as missing and those homeless could reach around the 30,000 mark.

Many of the inhabitants of Itaipava, (which was the worst hit suburb of Petropolis and the area of

our church), had their houses invaded by the water from the rain and spent the night in panic in the open, on the streets.  The sides of the roads served as camps for those who could no longer enter their homes and had nowhere else to go, amongst them women, the elderly and children, soaked in the rain and covered in mud.

One such victim of this tragedy was Kelly.  She lives in the same suburb as our church, is a shop attendant and earns £160 a month.  She came into the church covered in mud and very hungry - she hadn’t eaten in two days and was grateful for the plate of spaghetti bolognaise, which she received at the church - even so she was thanking God for having been able to save her little son David, who was just 1 year old.  “It was a miracle that we got out in time”, she said, “the water began to invade the house and almost immediately it was completely flooded.  The river runs very

near my home and suddenly there was this tremendous explosion of water that knocked down walls and roofs of many houses.  My little son is suffering from bronquitis and has a high temperature, but he is safe”. She had left the child in a neighbour’s home who offered to look after him for a while. 

Two homeowners from the Cuiaba condominium came into the church for a meal.  They were fortunate to be out of the area on the night, as one of them had been suffering with kidney and lung problems and they were in the hospital.  They described their home as a paradise in the mountains, surrounded by green trees and nature, but now it is one of the most devastated areas of Itaipava.  Paulo was in shock.  “What happened?  I cannot believe that my land has turned into this.  I built my life here and never thought that I would see the area in this state.  It is a tragedy; my God!”  After Paulo had been released from hospital he had gone home and begun to take stock of all that he had lost.  He believes at least 15 members of his family who lived in the

region drowned, but thanked God for hearing that all his seven sons were alive and safe.  I just cannot take in any more”, he said,  “Friends tell me that they saw many people they knew being swept away by the flood, screaming.  It must have been a night of terror”.  By his reckoning Paulo had lost everything, “my little farmstead, with all my corn plantation and more than 40 pigs, a van, a lorry and four tractors - my whole livelihood has been swept away.”

Last week we managed to enter the district of the Valley of Cuiabá  where Paulo had his home.  It was necessary to get permission from the police, as the area is still considered a calamity area.  We could only take the car to a certain point and from there we had to walk.  The scene was one of devastation and in some places we could smell the stench of dead carcases and putrefying mud heavy on the air.  (ED: Here, when parts of bodies have been found, it has been almost impossible to extract them, so only DNA samples have been taken where possible and then the area just covered over again.) Then, in the middle of all this carnage and wreckage, we came across one of the few houses that was still standing and saw a lady who was endeavouring to clean up what was left of her home.  She was listening to a hymn on the radio and singing at the top of her voice, giving glory to God.  The words of the music she was listening to were: “Stand firm; don’t give up!  Keep up the good fight! The crises and pains will come, but there comes a time when they have to end.  If you don’t give up, you will inspire me to remain true also.  I am counting on you, God is counting on us.  Heaven is willing us to win…..”

(Song by Ludimila Ferber).  It was the only good thing I saw the whole time we were there.  It made me want to ask her if I could come in and sing along with her!

This week too, Pastor Romario and his wife, Mark and the children and I started to buy furniture, fridges, cookers, washing machines, wardrobes and beds and deliver them to the different homes.  Our brethren from the Bethel Church thank you with all their hearts for the gifts they are receiving.  They cannot believe that everything is arriving brand new from the shops!  It is only God who can bring consolation to those who need it after the destruction, whatever level it was on.  It is difficult to start again, we know; but there is hope.  The Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, will bring joy, strength, unity, perseverance, so that these people can retake once more the normal course of their lives, even though the memories will still hurt.”  Vivian

We would like to thank all of you who have so kindly contributed in any way to help families put their lives back together again after this tragedy  LAM has been able to send £8,500 altogether over to Brazil because of your generosity and we know that this will be a real help to the pastor as he seeks to minister to those in need.                                                

God bless you all,  

Love from Noel and Sandra, Mark and Vivian,