RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Heavy rains in Sao Paulo brought Brazil’s most populous city nearly to a halt on Monday with floods, mudslides and enormous traffic jams.
“Since 3 a.m., in some areas it rained half of what was expected for the month of February,” Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas told the online news portal G1. The Tiete and Pinheiros rivers overflowed, flooding nearby highways and trapping drivers and passengers for hours.
Parts of the city received 100 mm (4 inches) of rain within three hours, swelling the Tiete River to its highest level in 15 years, according to the state’s infrastructure secretary.
Many had to be rescued by rafts or helicopters after waiting hours atop inundated cars, surrounded by muddy water.
One man who was unable to get to work on Monday morning had no choice but head back home. Soon after arriving in his neighborhood, Gabriel França, a 27-year-old electrical engineer, said he heard screams and ran out of his house, witnessing a mudslide that destroyed two nearby houses and trapped a little girl who was later rescued.
Covas, the city’s mayor, said 43 schools canceled classes, buses were operating partially and some urban trains were canceled.