Torrential Rains in Brazil and Haiti Displace Thousands

Torrential Rains in Brazil and Haiti Displace Thousands
Photo: FILIPE ARAUJO/AFP, Getty Images

Both Haiti and Brazil weathered torrential rains earlier this week. The rain caused floods in the city of Cap-Haitien, killing at least 3 people and displacing thousands of families. In the Brazilian state of São Paulo, the heavy rainfall caused landslides and floods leading to more than 20 deaths and thousands of displaced people.

São Paulo’s rainfall began late last week and by this past Monday, more than 1,000 families were displaced throughout the state. The landslide following the downpour destroyed entire homes and authorities are still searching for survivors. Images of the area show entire roads and houses across São Paulo covered in murky brown floodwater. Haiti’s rainfall has downed trees and displaced more than 2,000 families, especially across the Northern coast.

The heavy rain and floods have hit Haiti less than a year after it was pummelled by hurricane Grace this past summer and a series of earthquakes.

The two Latin American countries are just one example of the climate whiplash that so many vulnerable communities face when experiencing frequent natural disasters without the necessary resources to constantly rebuild and prepare for future events. Terrifyingly, events like those in Haiti and Brazil are only expected to become more common around the world, including in the United States. A 2020 study found that flood risk for people in the U.S. will double every five years in the coming decades. This means that by the year 2050, extreme once-in-a-lifetime events could happen every single year. Those same flooding events could occur almost every day during regular high tides by 2100.

The rest of the world isn’t going to fare any better than the Americas. A 2018 study from the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) found that heavy rainfall and floods have surged more than 50% in the past decade. And as if that isn’t enough, those extreme events are occurring at a rate four times higher than they did in 1980.

Vulnerable parts of the world like Haiti already seem to be on that path of regularly occurring disasters. There isn’t much time for those countries, and for many others, to prepare for the storms to come.