WorldPolar air mass drops temperatures even in the Amazon and provokes a...

Polar air mass drops temperatures even in the Amazon and provokes a wave of solidarity across the country

Even the Amazon felt the wave of cold that settled in Brazil this week. This Friday morning, the thermometers in Manaus registered 23.4 degrees, according to the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet). THE cold, as the phenomenon is called in the North, is a reflection of the drop in temperature in the South and Southeast in the last few days, where temperatures became negative. The drop in thermometers is the result of a mass of polar air with the action of La Niña, which intensifies the characteristics of winter in the coldest regions of the country. ”Since we were two to three years old without such powerful polar air masses, people forget. But the intense cold in the South is normal”, explains Cléber Souza, meteorologist at Inmet. He reminds that there should be new polar air masses coming from Antarctica from the south every 15 days until winter ends, in September.

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In the city of São Paulo, where thermometers recorded the lowest temperature in the last five years, 4.3 degrees, in the early hours of Friday (30), Thursday night started busy in the central region. While civil defense workers worked to convince the homeless population to go to city hall shelters, dozens of people distributed blankets, clothes and food to these residents scattered across the city’s postcards, such as Pátio do Colégio, Anhangabaú, Praça da Cathedral and Largo São Bento.

The warnings from the meteorological institutes that the end of July would be marked by an intense mass of polar air, especially in the south of the country, led city halls in these regions and other civil society entities to mobilize efforts to welcome people in situations of street.

Therefore, earlier this week, the City of São Paulo had prepared to distribute 10,000 blankets, in addition to sleeping bags, warm clothes and mattresses. The most recent data show that at least 24,000 people live on the city’s streets. Edvanio da Silva, 40, is one of them. On the street for two years, where he went after having separated, he told the story that the frosty night this Thursday would be faced alongside his friends and one of his daughters who, despite having a home, went to visit him and would spend the night with him.

The Pedro II subway station was open throughout the night to serve as a shelter. Under the command of Father Julio Lancelotti, who coordinates the Pastoral do Povo de Rua, the Parish of São Miguel Arcanjo, on the east side of the city, also opened its doors in the late mornings to welcome those who have nowhere to live. On a social network, Father Julio published photos preparing the church to receive the homeless, and then with the parish fully functioning as a shelter.

The same was repeated in Porto Alegre, with the service structure set up by the city hall at Ginásio Gigantinho, in the center of the city. On Tuesday (27), when the cold came with greater intensity in Rio Grande do Sul, the structure exceeded its capacity. “We set up a structure to receive 100 people and received 112”, says the city’s municipal secretary for Social Development, Léo Voigt. According to him, the excess of people was absorbed in other structures, and there were also referrals to health units. The search made the city create a new back office in parishes, which enabled the opening of 125 new vacancies.

According to Voigt, the shelter in Gigantinho and in the parishes continues at first until Sunday (1°), when the cold wave should cool down. There will be a balance from the city hall to define the interruption or continuity of the operation, which aims to shelter a population that has been growing every year. Data released in March by the Foundation for Social Assistance and Citizenship (Fasc) to the newspaper Zero hour pointed out that the homeless population in the city is, on average, 3,8000 people, an increase of 38% compared to 2019.

Outside the capital, at least 30 cities in the state had snow recorded between the afternoon of Wednesday (28) and the early morning of Thursday (29). There were medium and high intensity snowfalls in the Serra gaúcha and North of the state, especially in São Francisco de Paula, Caxias do Sul, Bom Jesus, Vacaria and Passo Fundo. This Friday morning, Vacaria registered -7.2 degrees, the lowest temperature in the state.

According to Metsul Meteorologia, the cold wave matched the record rainfall of 2013 and reached regions where the phenomenon is rare, such as the South Coast and Campanha. More than 50 municipalities registered negative temperatures in the period, which also caused frozen rain and grieves – small ice balls similar to hail.

homeless population only grows

According to the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), in February 2020 almost 222,000 Brazilians lived on the streets, concentrated mainly in capitals in the South, Southeast and Northeast, a growth of 140% compared to 2012. It is estimated , however, that this number has increased, driven by the pandemic. There are still no new official data, but the situation is obvious to those who live in large cities, or who work to assist this population. ”We have been experiencing a spontaneous increase in demand for our services, which coincided with the beginning of the pandemic. People are looking for shelter, and there is a greater mobilization of society”’, says the president of the Foundation for Social Action (FAS) of Curitiba, Fabiano Vilaruel.

The capital of Paraná also intensified the approach of teams on the streets so that residents accept going to shelters. On Tuesday (27), 1,099 people slept in the shelters. ”What we are looking for the most is to prevent death from hypothermia. We do not want to lose anyone to the cold”’ points Vilaruel. On July 8, 2019, a homeless person was the victim of hypothermia in the city. He was rescued by the Military Police, but he did not resist.

To increase membership, the foundation created a partnership with the National Movement of Homeless People, and opened 150 extra vacancies in the administrative headquarters of FAS. ”This will help us to mobilize people who are more resistant,” emphasizes Vilaruel. In this and other shelter units in the capital, residents have a bed, showers, food and health care. The city today, according to FAS data based on the Federal Government’s CadÚnico, has a homeless population of around 1,900 people, which fluctuates, according to Vilaruel, with the arrival and departure of foreigners from neighboring countries and people from the Metropolitan region.

Individual initiatives

With warnings from the meteorological institutes for the arrival of the cold wave, the creator of the Sopão Curitiba project, Larissa Isadora Ribeiro, intensified the request for help in the profiles of the initiative that delivers food to homeless people in Curitiba. She created the project in June 2018. “I was leaving work on a rainy day and there was a guy in a marquee asking for help. People were ignoring his existence. Which unfortunately is very normal, but it left an impression on me. At home, I talked to my mom, we made a sandwich and went back to give it to him. But we thought we should do something,” he recalls. Today, Sopão delivers around 200 lunchboxes on Saturdays and snacks daily. The distribution is itinerant and seeks to serve residents who are not concentrated in the central region of the city, where the city hall equipment and other social projects are located.

In addition to homeless people, the project has been focusing its efforts on assisting families suffering from food insecurity, something that has intensified in the pandemic and already affects more than half of Brazilian households, according to a study by the Free University of Berlin in partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the University of Brasília. ”There are people who have a place to live, but go looking for food to be able to use the little they earn to pay a bill. The pandemic opened that up in an absurd way, and we have seen more and more people in this situation”’, says Ribeiro.

Specifically for this cold snap, Sopão Curitiba, in addition to daily food deliveries, managed to assemble kits with coffee, milk, chocolate milk and children’s socks, which were distributed in vulnerable neighborhoods such as Ocupação Nova Tiradentes, Jardim Santos Andrade community and in the neighborhood Cashbox.

In the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, private projects in partnership with the city also meet the need for food, and there has been a “stunning” growth, according to secretary Léo Voigt, in donations from society, from food to blankets. “We are even having difficulty processing so many donations. The solidarity of society is impressive”’.

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