January 2011 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides

Coordinates: 22°54′30″S 43°11′47″W / 22.90833°S 43.19639°W / -22.90833; -43.19639
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January 2011 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides
Date11 January 2011
LocationTeresópolis, Nova Friburgo, Petrópolis, Sumidouro and São José do Vale do Rio Preto, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Property damage2.0 billion Reais ($1.2 billion USD)[2]

A series of floods and mudslides took place in January 2011 in several towns of the Mountainous Region (Região Serrana), in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Casualties occurred in the cities of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis, Petrópolis, Bom Jardim, Sumidouro and São José do Vale do Rio Preto.[3] The floods caused at least 916 deaths, including 424 in Nova Friburgo and 378 in Teresópolis.[4][5][6][7] While local media claims that the combination of floods, mudslides and landslides in Rio de Janeiro became the worst weather-related natural disaster in Brazilian history,[8][9] some contend that a similar weather-related tragedy that took place in the same state in 1967 was much deadlier, and that an estimated 1,700 people lost their lives on that occasion.[10]

The cities that reported human casualties are located in a mountainous area, in the neighborhood of the Serra dos Órgãos national park. The area is a tourist hotspot due to its geographic features, historical landmarks and mild temperatures. Many buildings, however, are directly exposed to landslide hazards because of the steep terrain.

Flood details[edit]

In a 24-hour period between 11 and 12 January 2011, the local weather service registered more rainfall than what is expected for the entire month. Flooding of many areas in the region followed immediately. The disaster caused widespread property damage and the supply of public utilities such as electricity, running water and phone lines was affected. Around 2960 people had their homes destroyed.

The most important watercourse to inundate the region was the Santo Antônio river. According to the National Institute for Space Research, the precipitation in Rio de Janeiro was caused by a Humidity Convergence Zone,[11] a lesser form of the South Atlantic Convergence Zone. Nova Friburgo was the city most heavily affected by the floods; Teresópolis also suffered extensive damage and loss of life. In Petrópolis, the Itaipava district, an area with many luxury vacation homes, reported most casualties. Petrópolis Brewery and the local campus of UERJ in Nova Friburgo were isolated by floods.[12][13] The cities of Sumidouro, São José do Vale do Rio Preto and Areal also were struck, as rivers Preto and Piabanha rose.

It has been commented that the majority of deaths were in poverty-stricken areas, and that the impact in these areas could have been much lower if it had not been for the systematically poor conditions of Brazil's favelas. The lack of proper attention to these areas has led some to describe the disaster as "more manmade than natural."[14]

Governmental response[edit]

Destroyed households in Nova Friburgo

President Dilma Rousseff declared that an emergency R$ 780 million (U.S. $466.2 million) would become available for reconstruction workers.[15] Acting governor Luiz Fernando Pezão sent reinforcements to the affected region and requested urgent federal assistance in machinery, helicopters and manpower. Rescue efforts were led by municipal governments, which also provided shelter and amenities for the newly homeless, often in schools.[16] The Brazilian Navy and the Rio de Janeiro state government set up field hospitals to assist the victims and to support rescue workers.[17] A team of workers in the operation had prior experience with the 2010 Rio de Janeiro floods and 2010 Haiti earthquake.[18] Analysts have commented that President Rousseff through her management of the crisis "passed... her first big test", but that the structural challenges that make certain (poverty-stricken) areas particularly hard hit in times of environmental disaster, still need to be addressed.[19]

International reaction[edit]

Improvised shelter for the homeless in Teresópolis
  • The prime minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, expressed his condolences over the "tragedy provoked by the storms," and offered assistance from the Spanish government.[20]
  • The Ministry of Foreign Relations of Argentina transmitted its "solidarity to the government and the people of Brazil," expressed condolences and offered "immediate aid."[21]
  • The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sent a message of "solidarity to the Brazilian nation and people."[22]
  • The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, published a communiqué to "transmit his condolences to the families of the victims", as well as "support and solidarity in this painful moment."[23]
  • The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, sent a message to President Rousseff expressing Portugal's "deep condolences and heartfelt solidarity" towards the "brotherly people of Brazil".[24]
  • The Foreign Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, expressed its sympathy and solidarity with Brazil, "As Australia's Foreign Minister I extend our heartfelt condolences, our sympathy, our solidarity and our support to the good people of Brazil, going through a terrible time right now. "[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Número de mortos na Região Serrana já passa de 900 após chuvas de janeiro" (in Portuguese). 15 February 2011.
  2. ^ Brasileiro, Adriana (17 January 2010). "Brazil Cities Hit by Landslides, Floods Will Need $1.2 Billion to Recover". Bloomberg. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  3. ^ G1 RJ (14 January 2011). "Sobe para 5 número de cidades com mortes após chuva na Região Serrana". G1 RJ (in Portuguese). Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Número de mortos na Região Serrana já passa de 900 após chuvas de janeiro" (in Portuguese). 15 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Sobe número de casos de leptospirose em cidades da Região Serrana atingidas pelas chuvas de janeiro" (in Portuguese). 9 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Sobe para 869 o número de mortos da Região Serrana em consequência das chuvas de janeiro" (in Portuguese). 1 February 2011.
  7. ^ World (16 January 2011). "Death toll from Brazil floods hits 600". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Chuva na Região Serrana é maior tragédia climática da história do país". G1 and Jornal Nacional (in Portuguese). G1. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  9. ^ Freire, Aluizio; Lauriano, Carolina; Araújo, Glauco; Leta, Thamine (13 January 2011). "Número de mortos na Região Serrana do Rio passa de 400". G1 (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  10. ^ Paiva, Aurélio (14 January 2011)"Maior tragédia do Brasil foi na Serra das Araras" Archived 20 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Portuguese). Diário do Vale. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  11. ^ Rossetto, Luciana (13 January 2011). "Chuva em SP e em Nova Friburgo ultrapassa média histórica, diz Inpe". G1 (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  12. ^ Tabak, Bernardo (13 January 2011). "Campus da Uerj ficou ilhado em Nova Friburgo, na Região Serrana do RJ". G1 (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  13. ^ Vaz, Tatiana (13 January 2011). "Chuva paralisa fábrica da cerveja Itaipava". Veja (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  14. ^ Braathen, Einar: Brazil: Successful Country, Failed Cities?, NIBR International Blog 24.01.11 Archived 30 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Yapp, Robin (13 January 2011). "Floods in Brazil leave more than 250 dead". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  16. ^ Freire, Aluizio; Lauriano, Carolina; Leta, Thamine (13 January 2011). "Chuva espalha destruição na Região Serrana do Rio de Janeiro". G1 (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  17. ^ Corrêa, Douglas (13 January 2011). "Marinha vai montar hospital de campanha em Nova Friburgo". Agência Brasil (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Housing sought for survivors of deadly mudslides". FoxNews. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  19. ^ Braathen, Einar: Brazil: Successful country, failed cities? (NIBR International Blog 24.01.2011 Archived 30 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine).
  20. ^ "Espanha oferece ajuda à Dilma perante fortes chuvas no Sudeste". EFE (in Portuguese). Exame. 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  21. ^ "Argentina oferece ajuda imediata a vítimas das chuvas no Rio". EFE (in Portuguese). Terra Networks. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  22. ^ "Ahmadinejad envia mensagem de solidariedade a Dilma por enchentes". Agência Brasil (in Portuguese). Editora Abril. 11 January 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  23. ^ "México envia condolências ao Brasil por vítimas de enchentes". AFP (in Portuguese). G1. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  24. ^ "Presidente da República enviou condolências à Presidente brasileira Dilma Roussef[f] pelas vítimas das cheias no Brasil". Presidency of Portugal (in Portuguese). 13 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  25. ^ "Australia extends solidarity to flood-hit Brazil". Inquirer. 15 January 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.

External links[edit]

Media related to January 2011 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides at Wikimedia Commons

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22°54′30″S 43°11′47″W / 22.90833°S 43.19639°W / -22.90833; -43.19639