More than a week after deadly floods and mudslides that killed at least 744 people, surviving residents in the Serrana mountain region near Rio de Janeiro are wondering how they can ever return to normal lives.
“Hope is the last thing you lose. I hope my grandchildren will come to know a new Friburgo,” 62-year-old Ari Osvaldo, a shopowner in Brazil’s hardest-hit town of Nova Friburgo, said as he reopened his business.
Bulldozers are working non-stop to clear mountains of mud and debris, while volunteers, soldiers and firemen helped to uncover the streets. Slowly, banks and supermarkets have reopened, and commerce is returning.
In Nova Friburgo and many nearby villages, the devastation caused by the mudslides had wrought such death and disruption that despair mounted as quickly as the body count.
The death toll for the region stands at 744, according to Rio’s state health and civil defense service. Nova Friburgo accounted for nearly half the total, 357 deaths.
The disaster was reported to be the worst natural catastrophe in Brazil’s history.
With around 200 people still missing, there are fears the final death toll could be around 1000.