São Paulo Diary: Floodplain Rain is Pain for Train

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No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primitive as can be.

–“The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island”

Termina resgate de passageiros ilhados na Zona Sul de SP: “Stranded commuter train passengers rescued in Southern Zone of São Paulo.” G1/Globo gives the incident a bureaucratic reading.

If it were me, I might have led with the information that the rescue operation took nearly eight hours to complete.

In some parts of the city, 37% of the rain expected for the month fell last evening within less than half an hour, reports are.

There was a note on the weather report the other evening warning that a region of Rio Grande do Sul was likely to receive 100% of the rain expected for the month the following afternoon.

Start blowing up your inflatable kayaks now, gaúchos.

There is a wonderful word for ad hoc watercourses that can suddenly appear under such conditions: igarapé.

I was reading just now about the construction of the Transamazonian Highway in the 1960s, and how every day during the rainy season, igarapés would appear every afternoon, like the moving finger of Omar Khayyam, which, having written, moves on, to erase the day’s progress. At the end of the project, of 3,300 km of (unpaved) roadway planned, some 50 km were usable.

A operação de resgate de passageiros de um trem da Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM), cuja composição ficou ilhada por causa da inundação da Linha D, na Zona Sul de São Paulo, terminou por volta de 2h40 desta sexta-feira (22). O Corpo de Bombeiros usou botes para retirar as pessoas.

The rescue operation to retrieve passengers from a São Paulo Metropolitan Rail Co. (CPTM) commuter train that was stranded by flooding on Line D in the Southern Zone of São Paulo, ended around 2:40 a.m. this Friday morning. The state fire brigade used boats to bring people out.

Is there a direct English equivalent for ilhar, which means, “to strand by surrounding with water?”

A assessoria da CPTM também confirmou que o corredor já foi liberado para circulação de trens.

The CPTM press office confirmed also that the corridor has now been cleared for the circulation of trains.

A forte chuva que atingiu São Paulo na noite de quinta-feira (21) isoulou [sic] o trem entre as estações Ipiranga e Tamanduateí, e seus passageiros tiveram de ser resgatados por meio de botes do Corpo de Bombeiros, pois o nível da água ainda não havia baixado até 2h.

The strong rains that hit São Paulo on Thursday night isolated the train between the Ipiranga and Tamanduateí, and its passengers had to be rescued by fire brigade boats because the water level had not subsided by 2 a.m.

They waited until 2 a.m. to see whether or not the problem would not just go away on its own?

O trem foi forçado a parar por causa de uma série de enchentes na região. A Linha D, que liga as estações Luz, no Centro, e Rio Grande da Serra, no ABC paulista, inundou e as operações foram suspensas. A CPTM informou que a interrupção do corredor começou por volta de 18h30.

The train was forced to stop by a series of floods in the region. Line D, which connects the Luz terminal downtown to Rio Grande da Serra in ABC Paulista, was flooded and operations were suspended. The CPTM said service was interrupted starting at around 6:30 p.m.

The passengers were stranded for seven and a half hours.

Segundo os bombeiros, pelo menos nove equipes trabalham na operação de resgate de passageiros ilhados. Não há ainda informações sobre o número de pessoas no trem. A composição tem capacidade para transportar até 1.700 passageiros.

According to the fire brigade, at least nine teams worked on the rescue operation. There is still no information on how many passengers were on the train. The train has a capacity of 1,700 passengers.

I bet they can squeeze in maybe 3,000, though.

Seriously: Brazil in the rainy season — with the exception of the chronically drought-stricken Northeast — tends to be New Orleans after Katrina to the fifth power.

Only no one is scandalized because it happens year after year after year. Spike Lee does not get deeply involved.

The TV news always gets amazing footage of the damage, but the segment is almost never followed up by a panel discussion with engineers suggesting ways to prevent it.
Some of the most haunting news footage I ever saw showed some poor guys in dugout canoes trying to figure out how to get their small herd of boi zebu off the grassy knoll they had taken refuge on.

I do not know why I found it so affecting, but there it was: These huge, splendiferous white oxen on a tiny island about 3 km from shore. These poor guys, scratching their heads.

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