Rain inundates southern Brazil

Church, local members offer relief to flood victims in Brazil, Panama

Recent heavy rains in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina caused massive flooding, claiming more than a hundred lives and forcing tens of thousands from their homes. The disaster is being called one of the worst in the country's history.

Church members have been counted among the flood victims. Although no deaths have been reported, more than 400 members from the Vale do Itajai Brazil Stake have been displaced, according to the Church's world disaster report. More than 100 members and their friends living inside the stake boundaries have found refuge inside the Vale do Itajai Brazil Stake center.

All missionaries in the region serving in the Brazil Florianopolis Mission have been reported safe and accounted for.

Church assistance in the form of local fast offering funds were immediately enlisted to purchase basic humanitarian items needed by impacted members. Meanwhile, local leaders were also authorized to utilize humanitarian funds to purchase basic supplies, according to the report.

Communication systems were damaged in some areas, making it difficult to establish an exact count of those members affected by the flooding. At press time, Brazil Area leaders were concluding their assessment of the situation. Recommendations may be made for future humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, local members have stepped forward to assist their fellow Brazilians. Members from the Sao Paulo area gathered to assemble 4,000 survivor kits. The kits were then delivered to the flooded community of Navegantes via air cargo, according to the report. Curitiba members assembled 2,000 survivor kits, which were then delivered to the community of Tijucas.

The kits will offer welcome relief to victims. Almost 80,000 people have been forced from their homes, and civil defense authorities have encountered trouble distributing relief supplies, according to the report.

PANAMA: Heavy rainstorms were also to blame for recent flooding and mudslides in western Panama that killed five people. No members or missionaries were harmed, although almost 200 members living in the Panamanian provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro evacuated their homes and sought shelter with families and friends, according to the Church's world disaster report. Two of the Church's rented meetinghouses in the region were flooded.

The district president in the affected area of Panama purchased basic relief items to support evacuated members. Humanitarian funds were also enlisted to provide relief to flood victims.

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