Tragedy in the valley of Itajai, Brazil
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Following weeks of heavy rain and flooding, Brazilian authorities declared a state of emergency in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. As of December 4, the death toll has reached 116 and 31 are still reported missing.

More than 79,000 Brazilians have been left homeless following floods, which have affected 1.5 million people in 14 cities. Mudslides destroyed the homes of both rich and poor who have constructed their homes on hill slopes. Much of the population in the region of the Itajai Valley builds on these slopes.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva was quoted as saying he "has never seen anything like this." He announced plans to release $854 million in aid to the hardest hit areas.

According to the Associated Press, people have been taking shelter in churches, schools, and other public buildings. Harrowing stories continue to emerge from Itajai, a riverside city of 180,000. Receding floodwaters have left homes and furniture caked with mud.

Santa Catarina Pastor Vania reports seven Nazarene families have lost all of their personal belongings and two of their homes were severely damaged and will need to be rebuilt.

Pastor Sergio, who pastors a Church of the Nazarene in Itajai, Brazil, reports five municipalities are in a state of emergency because of the strong rains.

"We need to continue to mobilize," said Sergio as he related the urgency of the situation. "There are so many with numerous needs," he continued.

Sergio reports that volunteers and troops have been working around the clock without rest, distributing large quantities of medicine, food, water, and clothing. Power outages have contributed to a lack of drinking water and fresh food. They are determined to diminish the suffering of these people whose lives have been devastated by this tragic event.

According to the Latin American and Caribbean Agency of Communication, on Monday, December 1, the Brazilian Air Force was mobilized to assist medically in the hospital in Itajai-Ilhota, which is located on route BR101, a major north-south highway. They are assisting in a hospital that has the capacity to take care of up to 400 patients per day with 37 specialists and doctors.

According to Pastor Markus Eberhart, the church in Itajai has been receiving cash offerings, food, and clothing from churches and districts across the southeast region of the country. Two large trucks with clothing and food will be arriving on site December 4 from churches in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Sergio expressed great hope for the future of this area by stating that, "We know that we can make a difference by showing the love of God to these people in who are in such great need."

Persons and churches wishing to contribute to the Brazil Flood Relief Effort can mark their checks "Brazil Flood Relief ACM1534" and send them to Global Treasury Services, 17001 Prairie Star Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66220. In Canada, checks should be made payable and sent to the Church of the Nazarene Canada, 20 Regan Road, Unit 9, Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3. Online giving is available by clicking here:

Note: To view photos of the flooding in Brazil, click here. To download a corresponding Power Point presentation, go to the Nazarene Media Library.
--Frank Pruzenski for NCN News-SAM
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