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Brazil |  “I don't know what tomorrow will bring,” says one flood victim.

Brazil | “I don't know what tomorrow will bring,” says one flood victim.

(Porto Alegre) On a mattress placed on the floor in the largest shelter in Porto Alegre, Rafael Adriano Pérez has difficulty moving: he was hit by a car in the first hours of the historic floods that affected southern Brazil, and when he was able to leave the hospital with two broken ribs, his wife She had left their small house, which was flooded.


Reunited once again, he hugs Mara, 45. “I don't know what tomorrow will bring. We have to start from scratch,” says the 35-year-old, who makes his living as an informal recycler in Porto Alegre, a city still submerged after the Rio Guayba flooded. .

Amid mountains of donated clothes and toys, nearly 800 people are staying in this giant barn in the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which has been suffering for nearly three weeks from an unprecedented climate disaster in this part of the world, which has left more than 150 dead. One dead and about a hundred missing.

“Nature gives back to us what we do with it.”

Some of them hope to return home when the waters recede, others are already giving up, like Marcia Beatrice Leal.

Photography: Nelson Almeida, Agence France-Presse

Shelter in Porto Alegre

Wearing a white turtleneck sweater and a tattoo above one eyebrow, the 50-year-old lives in a house she rents in Estrella, a town in a devastated part of the region. Next to him sleep Pietro, his seven-year-old son, and his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

“This is the third time” she has experienced flooding.

This desire “to fight and strive to recover again and again, everything disappears,” explains Marcia Beatriz, who was with them in Porto Alegre when the endless flooding began.

She didn't even try to go home.

This animal clothing designer claims to feel better after “crying” during a conference organized by the unit, inside the town hall, which deals with the mental health of residents, in a reserved area of ​​the shelter.

She hopes to settle with her mother and son somewhere else, away from the region's increasingly heavy rains, a disturbance linked, according to scientists, to climate change and the El Niño phenomenon.

Photo by Anselmo Cunha, AFP

In Canoas

“Nature gives us back what we do with it,” says this woman.

He's lost everything, but he's already thinking about starting over

Under a colorful blanket next to Mara, Rafael Adriano Pérez also has no doubts about this topic: “Humans are destroying the planet and it will get worse,” especially since “deforestation in the Amazon will not stop.”

This man, who always believed that “water would never reach” his home, adds that the current tragedy in southern Brazil is “proof,” and “it could happen tomorrow in Belo Horizonte (southeast of the country) and in other cities.” a house.

About 13,000 people are gathering in 149 shelters in Porto Alegre, a modern city with a population of 1.4 million, according to local authorities.

Photography: Adriano Machado/Reuters

To Porto Alegre

For Marta Fadrik, coordinator responsible for mental health problems at the city council, the fear of flooding again can be felt among those most affected. However, she finds this feeling diminished in most cases.

“Fear is normal” in this “acute” stage of the drama, just like anxiety, insomnia and “distrust of everything,” this psychologist explains in the outer courtyard of the shelter visited by AFP, where several rows of clothes are being dried in the shelter. . The sun and the children are running around as if they are oblivious to the tragic events taking place.

Abraham Elises Gil, 25, is a Venezuelan who immigrated to Brazil six years ago because of the dire economic situation in his country.

With his wife and two children, he was able to rebuild his life in Porto Alegre as a cleaner, settling in a house and buying furniture.

He's lost everything, but he's already thinking about starting over.

“Children give us strength. Life goes on.

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