17 May 2021
The 17-18 December 2020 landslide disaster in Presidente Getúlio, southern Brazil
Authors: Renato Lima (UFPR – CENACID), Fabiane Acordes (Paraná State Civil Defense – CENACID), Wilson Soares (UFPR, CENACID) and Jefferson Picanço (UNICAMP-CENACID)
On 14 December 2020, significant rains occurred in the municipality of Presidente Getúlio, in the State of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. According to residents’ reports on the night of 17-18 December 2020, the rains intensified from about 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm, and widespread dangerous geological processes were triggered.
There were 21 deaths in the region across three municipalities: 18 in Presidente Getulio, two in Rio do Sul, and one in Ibirama.
The cumulative rainfall in the last 30 days before the disaster, indicates a total greater than 370 mm in the period, according to data recorded at the Jardim Otilene weather station of the National Center for Monitoring Natural Disasters (CEMADEN), which is located in the centre of the municipality:
In the eight days before the disaster, the total cumulative rainfall recorded at the site was approximately 260 mm:
Most of the larger mass movements in the Presidente Getúlio region initiated as translational type landslides in the Palaeozoic sandstone escarpments. The dangerous geological processes identified in this event included landslides, rock falls, debris flow, floods and flash floods, mainly affecting the Revólver Creek valley in Presidente Getulio, and the Cobras Creek valley in the municipality of Rio do Sul. High-energy surface water flows, transporting logs, pebbles, sand, clay and debris, reached the lower portions of the valleys, causing destruction in rural areas and in the urban area of the city of Presidente Getúlio.
Consequently, several roads and bridges were destroyed, houses were damaged or destroyed and agricultural and industrial activities were impacted, achieved by these geological processes of high destructive capacity. The images below show some these events:
This report is partly translated from the information in the Mission Report (in Portuguese) of the Center for Scientific Support in Disasters (CENACID) to support the affected community in Presidente Getúlio. CENACID, led by Prof Renato Lima, from the Federal University of Paraná, is an organization that aims “to provide scientific knowledge when it is necessary to reduce the losses and suffering of society in disasters”.