Salvation Army in Brazil Involved in Disaster Relief Following Heavy Rains
The following report was submitted by Salvation Army Lt. Colonel Al Ward, Chief Secretary of the Brazil Territory:
The Salvation Army of Brazil is engaged in disaster relief efforts caused by the landslides that have followed unusually heavy rains in the state of Rio de Janeiro, especially in the city of the same name. The death toll is now over 180 and is expected to rise as more landslide debris is cleared. That debris includes a day care center in the favela (shanty town) of Bumbu in the city of Niteroi.
The Salvation Army’s preliminary disaster work was conducted by local personnel already serving in these affected communities. This work was first compromised because of the chaos caused by flooding which isolated both our personnel and locations. Telephone and electrical service were interrupted and travel was virtually impossible due to the closing of tunnels and bridges, especially the bay bridge from Rio to the city of Niteroi. Some heavily affected areas were close to the Community Center in the favela called Divineia and the corps (church) in Niteroi. Salvation Army soldiers and officers working in these locations are being coordinated by the Divisional Commander and The Salvation Army is working in cooperation with the governmental agencies involved, especially the Civil Defense and Fire Department.
Territorial Headquarters is today sending a disaster team from Sao Paulo to Rio to more fully staff disaster operations and relieve those already working on site. Special emphasis will be in Bumbu in Niteroi across the bay. Seven cadets from the Officers’ Training College and two Army officers are expected to stay in Rio until the completion of the intense recovery effort is completed, which is expected to take up to five days. Their immediate support will be with the more than 150 official disaster workers with food and drink, as well as spiritual support and comfort. Overall recovery efforts are being coordinated by the Fire Department and Civil Defense authorities. After the immediate emergency is met The Salvation Army will assist survivors as much as possible with replacement items and spiritual care. As is typical in Brazil, the Civil Defense is conducting an official drive for goods from the general public for later distribution.
The Salvation Army has been serving in Brazil for 88 years, with the Niteroi corps established in 1922.