When devastating floods hit Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil, Volvo Construction Equipment mobilized its machinery to join the international relief effort.
Many hundreds of people were killed after flooding hit Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil last month and rescue teams are still searching for hundreds reported missing. The United Nations has referred to this natural disaster as the second worst in Brazil’s history, surpassed only by a meningitis outbreak in 1974, which killed 1,500 people.
The flooding, caused by days of torrential rain, prompted hillsides to collapse and water and mud to sweep through communities, destroying anything in their path. According to health and civil defense officials, the disaster has left about 25,000 people homeless, of which only13,000 might be able to return to their homes once the situation improves – the rest will need to find new places to live.
Witnessing the devastation, Volvo Construction Equipment Latin America and its Brazilian dealer Tracbel quickly mobilized its machinery to join the relief effort in the areas worse hit by the floods. Luiz Gustavo, vice president of Tracbel, said they could not stand by and watch the disaster unfold without offering help. “We could see the extent of the catastrophe on the news and felt that we had to offer our support,” he says. “We knew that if we sent some machines from our rental fleet, it would really help the region.”
The Volvo machines are mainly working in Teresópolis, in the hills near Rio de Janeiro City, by far the most affected area. The machines are clearing the area of big stones and material brought down by the mudslides and using them as barriers to prevent further flooding. They are also reinforcing structure points and reconstructing houses and buildings.
The Volvo machines include a BL60 backhoe loader, ECR88 crawler excavator, EC55B compact excavator, and L60F and L90F wheel loaders. Volvo’s sister brand, SDLG, also supplied an LG936 wheel loader. Machine operators are being supplied by two of Tracbel’s construction customers in the Rio de Janeiro state.
“The tragedy in Rio de Janeiro state has surprised everyone,” says Yoshio Kawakami, president of Volvo Construction Equipment Latin America. “Removal of the debris and the rocks is beyond human capability, so machines are essential to the relief effort. Unfortunately, many people will not be able to return to their original homes, which were destroyed in the floods, so new homes need to be built. Machines bring hope for a faster return to normal life and we are glad that we can provide some relief for those suffering the effects of the floods.”
Alongside many other responsible companies, Tracbel has sent over US$15,000 in food, water, cleaning and hygienic supplies to affected areas in Rio de Janeiro state. The money was donated by share holders and employees. Volvo employees are also consolidating a donation channel internally with collections currently in progress.
Text: Clare Gittins
Pictures and video: Prata Gelatina
Picture 1: A Volvo EC034 crawler excavator helps the military to clear rubble and mud from the Teresópolis area, one of the worst affected areas in the Rio de Janeiro state.
Picture 2: Volvo Construction Equipment Latin America and its Brazilian dealer Tracbel are working with local officials to clear the worse affected areas.
Picture 3: The flooding prompted hillsides to collapse and water and mud to sweep through communities, destroying anything in their path.
Picture 4: A Volvo BL60 backhoe loader clears away debris left by the floods in Brazil.
NEW: Visit Volvo’s YouTube channel to see video footage of the relief effort in Brazil: