São Paulo, Brazil (CNN) Residents in Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco were bracing for more days of heavy rain after at least 84 people were killed as downpours triggered floods and landslides, according to the Civil Defense’s death toll.
Since heavy rains began on Wednesday, 56 people have also gone missing, while nearly 4,000 have lost their houses, according to CNN Brasil. Fourteen municipalities have declared a state of emergency.
The Pernambuco civil defense has urged residents living in high-risk areas around the city of Recife to seek shelter elsewhere after the rain caused landslides there. Schools in Recife have opened to shelter displaced families.
Brazil’s northeast has been suffering from exceptionally high volumes of rain, officials say. Some areas have registered more rain in a 24-hour period over the weekend than the total volume expected for the month of May.
Some parts of the state had a repreive from the rain Monday as showers moved toward the coast, but Pernambuco is forecast to get another 30-60 mm of rain in the next two days, while isolated areas could see over 100 mm. The region could experience more than half a month’s worth of rainfall in just four days, between Saturday over the weekend until the end of Tuesday.
Gusts — which can lead to power outages and falling debris — could also be as high has 100 kph.
The weekend downpour triggered the fourth major flooding event in five months in Brazil, according to a Reuters report, which highlighted a lack of urban planning in low-income neighborhoods throughout much of the country. Favelas — slums or shantytowns — are often erected on hillsides prone to giving way, usually outside major cities.
In December, downpours caused two dams to burst in nearby Bahia state, killing dozens and submerging entire streets.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said the military would assist those impacted and that he would travel to Recife on Monday to assess the situation.
“Our Government made available, from the first moment, all its means to help those affected, including the Armed Forces,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Paulo Câmara, the state governor, said on Twitter that his office had made 100 million Brazilian reals ($21 million) available to help the areas affected by the rain. Seven other Brazilian states have offered to help and sent rescue teams to Pernambuco, according to CNN Brasil.
The climate crisis is making destructive extreme weather more common globally. As temperatures rise, the mean amount of rain in this part of Brazil is actually projected to decrease, but extreme rain events are expected to occur more frequently and intensely, according to scientific projections published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That means some parts of Brazil will experience more prolonged droughts as well as more frequent and extreme rainfall events, which together make it more vulnerable to floods.
Why landslides occur is more complex, but they often happen during heavy rainfall in areas that have been overly deforested and built upon.