Brazil (MNN) — Flooding in Southern Brazil hardly made headlines internationally, yet 11,000 homes have been impacted by severe flooding after Rio do Sul was submerged in water. Some regions had 17 feet of water at the worst points in the flooding.
EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis Response director Mark Lewis is in Brazil now. "In the southern part of Brazil, there was some very, very localized torrential rains in two river valleys that ended up just extensively flooding the city of Rio do Sul–about 70,000 people," explains Lewis. "The city was about three quarters under water."
That was a couple of weeks ago, but cleanup is nowhere close to finished because the flooding is so extensive. Thousands of families are not only trying to drain their homes of water, but are trying to tend to serious mud problems as well. Every roof tile of one family's home had to be removed due to high quantities of mud. Cleaning and rebuilding will take months.
For at least 500 families, damage was so severe they have now lost their homes permanently.
No one has been spared, including an EFCA partner church which suffered a blow.
"We have a local church partner on the ground (actually a church planter who's focusing on the region and looking at planting multiple churches), and their church had about 14 feet of water in it," reports Lewis.
Despite the damage, as soon as the water was removed from the church building, the members began receiving clothing and food donations for others in need. Church members went out into the city, stopping for anyone who needed help, and then working on their homes to remove debris, mud and water.
That commitment has already made a significant impact on the people of Rio do Sul. "It's been really an awesome thing to see how the witness of the church has been so attractive," says Lewis. "The church plant here had 30 people visit the church in the last two weeks."
One woman visited after the church helped her neighbor with cleanup. She was blown away by the idea that a church would help someone like that, and she came to church filled with questions. The believers there were able to begin a relationship with her and share the Gospel.
Lewis is in Brazil to help determine a long-term response for physical needs and church growth. Doors have already opened in the community, which may even influence the amount of outreach the EFCA has in motion by the time the World Cup and Olympics come to Brazil in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Pray that the Lord would pave the way for great ministry.
For now, thousands of families are still unable to go back to their homes. Many have no homes to return to. The biggest need is for donations so that TouchGlobal can mobilize their resources to help the local church. Click here to learn how you can be a part of this ministry.