No Lessons Learned from Santa Catarina

“More then 600 people are missing after days of heavy rain in north-eastern Brazil triggered deadly floods, officials say. At least 31 people are known to have died so far and tens of thousands have had to flee their homes. Correspondents say the floods have washed away entire villages in the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco. The governor of Alagoas, Teotonio Vilela Filho, said bodies were being washed up on beaches and riverbanks.

“We are praying for the missing to be found alive,” he said, before holding talks with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. More than 1,000 miles of roads have been washed away by the rains, hindering the delivery of aid to affected areas. Rescue teams are airlifting people out of the worst-affected areas by helicopter. The town of Quebrangulo in Alagoas is reportedly 80% submerged, forcing thousands of residents to flee to higher ground. The army and navy are helping with the rescue efforts. In 2009, flooding killed at least 44 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the same region.” – BBC 

My Take

Am I being way too simple-minded here or if a city has been destroyed by floods, isn’t it possible to devote gov’t aid to that city to put in a drainage system? To say Brazil can’t come up with enough money in public funds is to lie. To say impunity for politicians who commit crimes by diverting public funds is routine, now that comes closer to the truth. Of course, that’s not to say that the US by comparison isn’t full of corrupt politicians, because it surely is. Here (when there isn’t an economic crisis), there’s money to go around, even when the politicians and CEOs steal tons of it. If I lived in Brazil on a more permanent basis and the politicians were stealing money that could make my life and the life of everyone around me better, I would be madder than mad. I’d be furious.

I think a comparison to Hurricane Katrina can be made here. Having lived in New Orleans post-Katrina, I know how fast the nice, touristy places were rebuilt and I know how the surrounding areas still look today. To ignore people because they are poor, when there are ways to help them, is just plain evil. This is the world we live in, where we throw around words like ‘development’, ‘third world’ and ‘social change’ without thinking about what they really mean, where the gov’t is in bed with the media, so much so that they make the people want what they don’t need and ask for change they don’t really understand. Too bad that more often than not, people are scared of their gov’t rather than the other way around. If we never wish to learn, then we’re on the right track.

2 thoughts on “No Lessons Learned from Santa Catarina

  1. Adam,

    I share your frustation with Governament officials both in Brazil and in the US ( Where I live and pay taxes ), however I am under the honest impression that this is a weather tragedy that didn’t choose social status, this is just a tragic amount of rain in a very short period of time and nothing any governament, municipal, state or federal could have done would have changed the result.
    Churches built 200 years ago have washed away, this is just too much rain, too much water, no drain or any other public measure could have forecasted such tragedy.
    Just as an example of just too much water in little time, France just lost over 30 people to floods this week alone…do you think those people died because they were poor? or because their governament didn’t built a drain that could have saved them? No, just a tragedy, too much water in too short a time.



  2. Understand your point, Ray. Thank you for your thoughts. As I was saying to my friend in Rio tonight, while trying to pretend that building towns in valleys was the wrong way to go about things, I realized that even if built on the hills, there are such things as landslides. The only ‘right’ place to build then, becomes a flat, high-level location that is near a valley.

    Floods happen in the US too and it frustrates me either way because whether or not there is a solution, I want quite badly to find that solution, to make it fit into my view.

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