REGUA spared of the terrible mudslides

Our summer at REGUA is normally a time associated with intense heat and a lot of rain, and this last month it has been no different. The speed at which houses are built in what are called “irregular sites” defies all of Brazil’s municipal and state planning departments. The increasing demands for building sites, especially economic housing, their disrespect to environmental laws, cutting costs in building materials coupled with the governments incapacity to control urban expansion, backlog of routine inspections, with their limited staff, and an all too well known tardiness in judicial action, all cumulate to produce an extensive history of disasters in landslides over the last 50 years. And now our growing knowledge of climatic change only furthers our concern for those living in precarious conditions. Last Tuesday to Wednesday night, massive Cumulus nimbus clouds associated with a colossal amount of moisture encountered a freak pressure area over Nova Friburgo and Teresópolis and the resulting unleashed rain amounted to between 270mm and 350mm within a few hours. This unprecedented deluge met with the already moist soil conditions and it didn’t take long for landslides to form on forested slopes as well those with houses, with unbelievably horrendous results. Areas where we had lived in Friburgo and travelled through on our way to birding sites have seen massive mud and earth slides and rivers of tsunami proportions passing through these areas, completely covering cars, crumpling houses and destroying bridges and roads with a tremendous loss of life.

These tradegies one always sees on TV seem far removed, but when you see it in real life having known the area quite well, the enormity of our own fragile existence and the stupid things we are doing to the environment hit home. Fortunately we were spared of these rains and our area of REGUA saw no landslides and though we have felt a huge amount of rain all is in order. Sadly a known Três Picos Park ranger by the name of Verly (first on the left in the photo) died and we knew him as the man who brought a caiman to REGUA’s wetlands and for his devoted line for his duty to arresting hunting and forest fires. There has been a huge effect of solidariety and people are helping in every way. Your thoughts are with us.