At least 20,000 people have been forced from their homes or left homeless by the intense rains that provoked deadly mudslides in the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. According to authorities, at least 806 people were killed and as many as 300 remain missing.
Bishop Paulo Lockmann, of Igreja Metodista em Brasil (IMB, the Methodist Church in Brazil) called the disaster “one of the most difficult moments of our ministerial life” and said, “I share the pain of our people.”
The most severely affected areas are Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis, and Petropolis, located in the Serrana region, about 60 miles north of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Bishop Lockmann said that Methodist churches that are still standing in the region are providing shelter for those left homeless.
In Teresópolis, the Central Methodist Church is sheltering 100 survivors. Herminia Franum, the church secretary, said the survivors were being treated by psychologists, doctors, and other volunteers.
“We have a very difficult situation here,” said Rev. Paulo Rangel, pastor of the Methodist Church of Nova Friburgo. “There are still people who are missing and others who were not rescued. Here, we are also working as a shelter for those who do not know where to go.”
The rains began in the small hours of January 12, dropping more than a month’s worth of rainfall in fewer than 24 hours. In addition to the destruction, there is also risk of disease should residents drink from run-off water or come into contact with other unreliable water sources.
Igreja Methodista em Brasil has asked for prayers for survivors and those who mourn, and is collecting drinking water, food, and clothing for those affected by the disaster.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has sent the church an emergency grant and continues to assess emerging needs.
Your help is urgently needed. Please give to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450.