Distraught farmer in flood-hit Brazil mourns the loss of animals, dreams

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 1:02 PM

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Leonardo Benassatto

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (Reuters) – The despair in Nilton Muradaz Junior’s eyes is unmistakable as he looks at the vast lake that was once his farm and home, but now shows little sign of the animals, equipment and buildings he lost in the floods devastating Brazil’s southernmost state.

“For the dream and life that we created here to be taken away like this is heartbreaking. I don’t even have words,” said Muradaz Junior, whose cattle herd was reduced to 13 head. Only four of his 20 English thoroughbreds survived.

Heavy rains in Rio Grande do Sul state have caused rivers and lakes to hit their highest levels ever, killing 149 people and displacing some 538,000 others, according to authorities.

“It’s not just a financial loss, but it’s the loss of a feeling – planting a seedling, having a little horse there that you were fond of and now you don’t have anymore. I can’t even express myself,” Muradaz Junior said.

He said he doesn’t know where to start rebuilding his life until he can fully assess the damages caused by the floods.

“People need to become aware of climate change as quickly as possible so that we still have a chance of not having this happen again in an even more serious way,” he said.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Leonardo Benassatto; editing by Gabriel Araujo and Jonathan Oatis)