On Wednesday morning, houses were left buried beneath mud while appliances and cars were in piles on the streets.
Petropolis, named for a former Brazilian emperor, has been a refuge for people escaping the summer heat and tourists keen to explore the so-called “Imperial City.”
Its prosperity has also drawn poorer residents from Rio’s poorer regions. Its population grew haphazardly, climbing mountainsides now covered with small residences packed tightly together. Many are in areas unfit for structures and made more vulnerable by deforestation and inadequate drainage.
The state fire department said 25.8 centimeters (just over 10 inches) of rain fell within three hours on Tuesday — almost as much as during the previous 30 days combined. Rio de Janeiro’s Gov. Claudio Castro said in a press conference that the rains were the worst Petropolis has received since 1932.
“No one could predict rain as hard as this,” Castro said. More rain is expected through the rest of the week, according to weather forecasters.
Castro added that almost 400 people were left homeless and 24 people were recovered alive.
They were fortunate, and they were few.