A few weeks ago I was visiting my brother Miles, who lives in Teresópolis, about an hour north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Back in January, Teresópolis was hit by the one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Brazil. Floods and mudslides left over 1,000 people dead or missing. Homes were completely destroyed and people and animals were buried alive under a mountain of mud.
My brother was there when this happened, but lives on the other side of the city. He knew something strange was happening because the power went out in the middle of the night.
My brother and I went to visit the residents of the neighborhood that was affected by this horrible disaster. The people there call it “the catastrophe.” It was one of the hardest things I have done to try and interview the people in this neighborhood. Emotions ran high. One man whom we asked about the catastrophe broke down and cried, and was unable to be interviewed.
Even though it has been months since the catastrophe, little has been done to rebuild the neighborhood. Destroyed homes abound, with beds, clothes, children’s toys, and other personal belongings strewn everywhere. There are even rumors that the mayor stole money that was given to help the reconstruct the neighborhood and kept it for himself. The situation in Teresópolis is truly a sad one, and much remains to be done if this city is going to return to its previous state.