Some 30 cities in the Brazilian state of Bahia are going through an emergency situation following a heavy storm that has affected around 70,000 people and left 3,700 homeless, according to rescue teams.
Bahia's Superintendence of Civil Defense and Protection has been tested to its limits as towns drowned in mud over this weekend. Bahia's Military Fire Department also explained there were 20 cities in an emergency situation and 7 under evaluation, while Civil Defense speaks of no less than 30 towns.
As a result of the storms, villages and rural areas were isolated, which made it difficult for aid teams to access. Around 241 military firefighters were deployed Sunday with the support of 2 helicopters, to rescue victims and help affected communities.
President Jair Bolsonaro traveled to Bahia together with ministers Rogério Marinho (Regional Development), João Roma (Citizenship), Marcelo Queiroga (Health) as well as General Augusto Heleno, from the Institutional Security Office. The presidential delegation landed at Porto Seguro's airport in the morning and overflew the flooded areas in a helicopter.
The Federal Government has allowed the Brazilian Army to get involved in the search and rescue efforts.
“We had a catastrophe last year, when many governors, people from Bahia, closed all trade and forced the people to stay at home. The people, for the most part, informal, condemned to starvation at home,” said Bolsonaro at Puerto Seguro after flying over the flooded areas.
He then recalled that the federal government rescued everyone with emergency aid.
”The government is sensitive to these problems, it asks everyone to contribute in order to overcome this problem and also that we do not destroy the economy in the name of anything, although we respect and understand the seriousness that this virus has brought to Brazil,” he went on.
The president also announced Sunday that financial help would be provided from the Guarantee Fund and Time of Service (FGTS) to municipalities in the north of Minas Gerais and the south of Bahia.
In addition to the president, State Governor Rui Costa is also in the region touring the municipalities of Jucuruçu, Itamaraju, Medeiros Neto, Teixeira de Freitas, and Prado to assess the damages and draw up a plan to rebuild the cities.
Other reports later Sunday spoke of 5,800 people homeless