Why São Paulo falls into chaos when it rains

são paulo flood

Footage from São Paulo on Monday was shocking. Cars being swept away by rushing streams, trees ripped from the ground, people rescued with jet skies in areas usually full of rush-hour traffic, subway stations being shut down. It seems that every summer we tell the same story about how tropical storms—which always come this time of year—have caught local authorities off guard and caused human tragedies and material losses. A month ago, six people died after floods in Rio de Janeiro. Now, 12 people have died in Greater São Paulo.

The city’s administration claims that Monday’s rains accounted...

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