Report: Brazil floods could take over a month to recede as 538,000 remain displaced

So far, 149 people have died and another 108 remain missing, Brazilian authorities said in their mid-morning update Wednesday. Another 806 have suffered injuries.

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – The catastrophic and deadly flooding that has left much of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul buried in feet of floodwaters for weeks may remain for at least another month, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Heavy, torrential rains plagued the region for several days in late April, with totals reaching more than 20 inches in spots. The tremendous amounts of rainfall overwhelmed the region’s lakes and rivers, sending multiple rivers several feet above flood stage and inundating villages and towns.

So far, 149 people have died, and another 108 remain missing, Brazilian authorities said in their midday update Wednesday. Another 806 have suffered injuries.

However, the scope of the flooding has affected 2.1 million who live in the area. Rescue crews have saved more than 76,500 residents from flooding through the event, and more than 538,000 Brazilians remain displaced by the disaster. 

As Lake Guaiba rose to 17.5 feet (5.33 meters) — nearly 8 feet above flood stage, floodwaters rushed into the major city of Porto Alegre, leaving downtown and major roads underwater.

The lake had slowly receded to about 15 feet (4.57 meters) on Saturday before a new round of rain pushed it back up to 17 feet (5.16 meters) on Wednesday.


Meteorologists and engineers at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) told Reuters water levels could stabilize or keep rising if it rains again. They added it could take a month before the water retreats below flood levels, based on historical comparisons.

For Lake Guaiba, an initial forecast from the UFRGS Institute of Hydraulic Research said it could be 35 days until the lake returns to normal levels, based on what happened in the floods of 1941 that had set the previous record of 15.6 feet (4.76 meters).

Meteorologists with Brazil's National Institute of Meteorology said El Niño is partially to blame for the wet weather pattern, as the warming waters of the Pacific Ocean help block cold fronts and concentrate areas of instability over the Rio Grande do Sul area.