Brazil floods: Lula seeks state of emergency, ports closed

Photo credit: Instituto Lula

Heavy rains wreaked havoc in state Rio Grande do Sul, the southern region of Brazil, this week, according to local authorities.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, flew with several cabinet members over the southern Rio Grande do Sul state to witness the floods.

From a view that the urgency of helping the state is above political differences, Lula invited the main national leaders to the trip in a demonstration that Brazil is united to help the population of Rio Grande do Sul in this difficult moment.

The defence ministry reported that the integrated work of military and civilians to help flood victims in Rio Grande do Sul has resulted in the rescue of thousand lives.

Lula emphasized the government’s commitment to providing support, stating that they are in constant communication with local authorities to discuss rescue and reconstruction efforts.

Accompanied by a delegation of ministers President Lula travelled for the second time to Rio Grande do Sul, this Sunday, to closely monitor the actions to help the population affected by the heavy rains, in the greatest natural tragedy in the history of the state.

Among several measures, he announced that the federal government, through the Ministry of Transport, will help in the recovery of state roads that were damaged.

In recent years, Brazil has grappled regularly with natural disasters. But this time, given the scope of the damage, the need has appeared far more urgent.

“This is a very important state in Brazil,” said Lula, who pledged federal aid to rebuild roads. “Bureaucracy would not stop the government from reconstructing the state,” he said.

Inchcape Shipping Services issued an advisory on May 6 in its website stating that the ports of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande, and Tramandai were completely shut down and that “due to heavy rains in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (state capital) is presently flooded, with river level 5 meters above the usual level.”

“The port area and airport are both flooded at the moment, and all discharge/loading operations are stopped (with no forecast for return) and all flights are cancelled. Given that Porto Alegre airport is the designated airport for crew changes in Porto Alegre / Rio Grande and Tramandai, it is important to note that all crew changes are currently on hold until further notice,” Inchcape Shipping Services added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Port Authority of the Ports of Rio Grande do Sul said in a social media statement that Rio Grande was “operating normally.”