“We convey our prayers to the victims and their families, as well as to the churches in Brazil mobilizing their networks to help their sisters and brothers,” added Sauca.
According to officials, more than 100 people have died by flash flooding and landslides. Search and rescue teams are combing the mud for survivors. Houses in hillside neighbourhoods were destroyed and cars swept away as floodwaters raced through the city's streets.
Residents are holding out hope that their loved ones can be found and trying to organise themselves to work on the rescue effort along with firefighters.
“In the face of so much pain and suffering, as Christian people, we are called and called to pray that God will give strength and hope to those in need, to face and overcome tragedy,” wrote Rev. Silvia Genz, president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.
“Let us reach out and help in what we can, just as Jesus taught us and just as he also did,” added Genz, as the church launched a national campaign to gather financial donations and announced that their congregation in Petrópolis is urgently collecting food, blankets, drinking water, personal hygiene items and clothing.
The Central Methodist Church of Petrópolis, together with the 7th Ecclesiastical Region of the Methodist Church in Brazil, has already started an important social action to help the hundreds of victims.
“As a church, we intercede and call for public policies that prioritize decent and safe housing for all people, just as we call for an urgent change in behavior in the face of climate change,” read a message of the Brazilian Methodist the Episcopal College.
In a public statement, the presidency of the Roman Catholic National Bishops Conference expressed that the tragedy causes a consternation that “touches our Christian faith, impelling us to act in solidarity.” The text called on everyone to witness to the faith, offering help to the victims.
With around 300,000 inhabitants, Petrópolis was hit by a month's worth of rain on the city in just three hours. Around 300 people are being housed in schools and shelters.