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“To the limit”: water becomes a treasure in disaster-hit region of Brazil

“To the limit”: water becomes a treasure in disaster-hit region of Brazil

This is horrible. We have children”. Gabriela Almeida holds little Ravi, one year old, in her arms while she waits her turn to carry water from one of the few taps available in a neighborhood in the municipality of Alvorada, east of Porto Alegre.

Gabriela is 27 years old and is a housewife. Thiago Oliveira is 28 and is a construction worker. At home, three other children aged 3, 7 and 10 are waiting to drink water. Since Saturday, in the Jardim de Aparecida neighborhood, the supply was cut off after the devastating floods that paralyzed Porto Alegre and its metropolitan region.

Thiago carries a large, colorful bag with 10 three-liter bottles. Printed on the nylon reads “Ordem e progresso,” the motto engraved on Brazil’s green and yellow national flag.

Gabriela has to ration the water. Bathroom and kitchen are “priorities”, in addition to water to drink, of course.

In the line, one of many seen in this popular area of ​​red brick houses, about 30 people wait patiently. The “Nosso Super” supermarket provided access to its artesian well so that residents could supply themselves.

The thing is, in the store, there is nothing else: no bottles, no drums, no cans. The last 10 liter containers of water left recently. “It’s over today tomorrow (Tuesday) and we are trying but we don’t know when we will have“, commented a manager to AFP.

In the nearby “Taka” supermarket, the situation is the same: the “Water” on the shelves is just an empty space.

“To the limit”

This Tuesday, only one of the six plants that supply drinking water to the Porto Alegre region is working. “There is no normalization forecast” of the service, reported municipal authorities. In Porto Alegre 1.4 million people live there, but with the metropolitan area there are 3.5 million.

The floods resulting from the rains of the last week, leaving 90 dead, 132 missing and more than 155,000 displaced, left a large part of the region without energy and water. That includes apartment buildings and hotels, which like hospitals and shelters are supplied by tanker trucks.

I’m at the limit. God forbid I run out of water“says Elizabeth, “just elizabeth“, to AFP, while carrying two 5-liter buckets of water for the umpteenth time since seven in the morning.

At 67 years old, this retired woman, with a slim build, has been making the journey home for days carrying heavy containers. The problem is that “you are of a certain age and big drums hurt my arms,” she said, rubbing her muscles.

An unthinkable ritual

This is permanent. At all times, with all the neighbors”says Benildo Carvalho, 48, as he passes the hose coming out of his house to a young man so he can continue with the task. Half a dozen people wait, and more are seen coming in the distance.

Carvalho has a well and shares the water with anyone who comes to ask him.

Some even bring small bottles. Anything works in the face of scarcity.

He water It is a thin thread that comes out of a plastic hose. “Until now there has been no shortage” here, he says about his well that is not connected to the supply network and that is why it became a blessing for the neighborhood.

Now “people depend on these wells. It’s the first time this happens” and sharing the water is “question of solidarity. You can’t deny water!”he exclaims.

The streets of Alvorada are a parade of people carrying transparent containers. They walk slowly. They talk. On some faces you can see the effort of moving so much weight. The hustle and bustle is incessant. For 72 hours, the scene has been repeated, like a ritual that does not know when it will end.

Source: Gestion

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