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Petrópolis residents report that sirens did not sound during storm

Residents of the city of Petrópolis told the CNN that, in at least five parts of the city at risk of landslides, the warning sirens did not sound. According to the municipal civil defense contingency plan, all equipment should have been activated in view of the volume of rain recorded last Tuesday (15). According to the document, if it rains 45 mm in one hour and there is a forecast of moderate and very heavy precipitation for the following hours, the sirens should sound for two hours. At the time, about 260 mm of rain was recorded in just four hours.

In the city there are at least 18 sites with warning sirens. Many of them did not work, as Breno da Silva Motta, a student at the Federal Center for Education and Technology (Cefet), says.

“I live in the Independence neighborhood. About 100 meters from my house there are sirens that go off when it rains, but they haven’t gone off for months and during that time there have been numerous storms in which they should have gone off. In this Tuesday rain they didn’t sound either,” she reveals.

According to him, several of his friends also reported not having heard the sirens alert. The student says that if the equipment had worked as it should, lives could have been saved.

“Most people who live in risky areas leave the house when they hear the siren, as many are afraid of what can happen. When they installed the sirens after the 2011 disaster, they did sporadic tests to see how long it took for people to travel to support points. When there was a more moderate rain, it was already playing. After a while, the sirens stopped playing. It seems that there was a relaxation of Organs competent bodies after a certain time without any landslides”, complained Breno.

Breno’s account is the same as that of Raíssa Magalhães, a resident of the São Sebastião neighborhood, one of the places most affected by the rains and landslides. She said she lives next door to one of these preventative equipment and it hasn’t touched it.

“I was very surprised that the siren did not sound, sometimes it happens to sound late, when the rain has already started. And it rings again and again. This time, silence. Unfortunately, people do not leave the house on their own, they are waiting for the alerts,” she reported.

According to data from the National Center for Monitoring and Alerts for Natural Disasters (Cemaden), São Sebastião recorded the highest rainfall on the day of the storm. In the neighborhood, in just one hour, it rained almost 80mm.

Cook Júlio César, a resident of Rua 24 de Maio, one of the streets most affected by the tragedy, said he lost everything, as did his family, who live on the same street as him. Julius was another one to denounce the silence of the sirens. “I personally didn’t hear a siren going off. There was a lot of rain, total damage, a horror movie scene,” he narrated.

The elderly Ângela Maria, who lives in Alto da Serra, corroborated the other complainants.

Photos – Impacts of the rains in Petrópolis

“On the rainy day, no one heard the siren ring. There was no siren, it didn’t ring. I only heard the sound of rain and people screaming for help,” she complained.

According to the Municipality’s Contingency Plan for Heavy Rains, “the sirens issue two types of alerts: the possibility of heavy rains, the risk of generalized landslides and/or flooding in the communities”.

Locations with sirens: Alto da Serra (Ferroviários); Bingen (John Xavier); Dr. Thouzet (Dr. Thouzet); Independência (Rua Ó and Taquara); Quitandinha (Amazonas, Ceará, Duques, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro); São Sebastião (Adão Brand and Vital Brasil); Sergeant Boening (E Street); Simeria (Front to the Sea); Vila Felipe (Campinho and Chácara Flora).

The Contingency Plan also highlights that the population must be notified through SMS messages, with forecast alerts for rain and risks of flooding or landslides.

Also according to reports received by the CNNmany people did not receive the messages, while others did when it was too late.

“I didn’t receive an SMS and I don’t think I ever received a communication of the type alerting”, said student Breno Motta.

The resident of the São Sebastião neighborhood, Raíssa Magalhães, also complained. Although she received the message, she reported that the SMS arrived late.

“The strangest thing is that I receive notifications via SMS from the Civil Defense and, on that day, they only sent notifications when it had been raining heavily for at least half an hour. It was too late”, he reported, also saying that when he received the message about the flood alert, it was after 5 pm, when it had been raining heavily for more than two hours and the city was already flooded.

THE CNN contacted the Petrópolis city hall and the city’s Civil Defense to understand the problems reported by residents. So far there has been no response.

Source: CNN Brasil

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