As last weekend’s torrential rains and landslides leave scars on the Portuguese island of Madeira, the pain is felt in Massachusetts communities with family and friends in the country. The heavy rains resulted in flash flooding and landslides that as of Thursday have caused 42 confirmed deaths, 29 missing and more than 100 wounded.

As last weekend’s torrential rains and landslides leave scars on the Portuguese island of Madeira, the pain is felt in Massachusetts communities.

The heavy rains resulted in flash flooding and landslides that as of Thursday have caused 42 confirmed deaths, 29 missing and more than 100 wounded.

José Quintal, president of Clube Madeirense S.S. Santíssimo Sacramento of New Bedford, said he has two brothers and family members living in the Funchal vicinity.

“There was some flooding in their homes, but everyone is okay. I cannot begin to imagine what the people there went through. Watching it here… tears came to my eyes. It is heartbreaking. These past few days have been tough,” Quintal said.

He went on by adding that as of Tuesday afternoon, all the club’s members had been able to locate and contact their relatives, except for one.

In efforts to help raise funds some of the club’s members met Thursday night. Their goal is to bring together as many people as possible to help raise funds to aid those who lost their homes.

“We will make sure the money goes to the right people there,” Quintal said. “The intention is for the funds to be hand-delivered by a club member. We want to do it right.”

Helena Marques, executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center of New Bedford and a native of Madeira, said she has family members on the island and it took many attempts to get in touch with them.

“My mom went into panic mode and started to call everyone,” she said. “She has a sister and a brother who live there. Fortunately, everyone is okay.”

However, Marques said, the pain is still felt and her heart goes out to those affected.

With the island’s worst natural disaster since the 19th century, about 600 people lost their homes and almost 500 are living in shelters after mud and rockslides crashed down the steep hillsides, wrecking homes and sweeping vehicles into rivers and the sea.

“Funchal was such a vibrant city and to see how the water took over makes you feel helpless. When you have such a tremendous connection to the island, it makes you cry,” Marques said.

In Funchal’s muddy streets, front-loaders and trucks continue to clear away tons of debris caused by the landslides.

“Everyone is helping and volunteers are joining forces with municipal and government staff to clean the streets,” Duarte Mendonça, who lives in Madeira, told O Jornal. “Appeals have been made for people to donate money, food, clothes and furniture in order to supply the minimum to those who lost everything. In the wake of this tragedy that shook the people psychologically, we rolled up our sleeves and demonstrated a big wave of solidarity, so that together we can surpass the memory of this alluvium.”

These feelings of solidarity have spread through all Portuguese communities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, regardless if they are Madeiran, Azorean or from the mainland.

António Ambrósio, president of the Day of Portugal in Rhode Island and a native of Portugal, said the committee is thinking about accepting donations during the “Festival da Gastronomia e Folclore,” which is part of the Day of Portugal calendar of events, but details are still being discussed.

The Clube Sport União Madeirense in Central Falls, R.I., is holding a fundraiser to help the victims of Madeira Island. The event will be held at the club at 6 p.m. March 20.

Rick Fernandes, president of Clube Sport Madeirense in New Bedford, stated some of the club members are still trying to contact their relatives. In an effort to aid Madeira Island, they will be holding a fundraising dinner Sunday, March 28. The details are still being planned; however, the tickets are being sold for $20. For information, call 508-997-0558.

In Fall River, a group of roughly 30 people gathered at the T.A. Restaurant to organize a fundraising event. Led by Luis Melim, whose family lives in Madeira, the group explored numerous scenarios on how to help.

Melim said a bank account will be established and he hopes that the group, through coordinated efforts with other organizations, will raise funds to hand over to a Madeiran Government official.

The group learned that an upcoming reunion made of people from the county of Povoção in São Miguel, Azores, will be held at the Venus De Milo at 1 p.m. March 28. Attracting more than 1,000 people, the proceeds will be donated to the cause.

The group also heard that Albertino Minho, the owner of the Madeira Restaurant in East Providence, offered to pay for dinner for up to 300 people, with ticket proceeds going to the fund. That event is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, March 26. It was also discussed having a daytime musical show with a minimum $10 ticket to be held at a larger local hall to raise funds sometime in March depending upon hall availability.

Local communities and organizations were not the only ones to join forces — even state officials voiced their solidarity.

“As I am sure you are aware, the island of Madeira was hit with a devastating tragedy over the weekend that saw mudslides killing 42 people, and with a death toll that will most likely continue to rise over the coming days. As a fellow legislator with a heavy Portuguese constituency, I am writing to you in hopes we can combine our efforts to assist those who were left in need,” read the letter addressed by Sen. Daniel DaPonte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.).

DaPonte also requested the delegation to contact the State Department to inquire about any additional assistance the country can offer and asked the delegation to petition the European Union to declare the island of Madeira a disaster zone, qualifying them for supplemental assistance.

Leonel Teixeira, vice-consul of Portugal in Providence and also a native of Madeira, said he was not personally affected. His family, which lives on the island, is safe. However, he is supporting the communities’ initiatives.

“I look at the images on the news and they are so hard to watch. My support goes out to everyone,” he said.

BANIF Açores, a Portuguese bank with an office in Fall River, said the financial institution has made available a solidarity account for the victims.

Their BANIF offices in Fall River, Newark, N.J., San Jose, Calif., and Toronto, Canada, have already received donations, which will be deposited into the solidarity account, according to BANIF officials. Those interested in helping Madeira and the victims, can send donations to:
— Clube Madeirense S.S. Santíssimo Sacramento Charitable Foundation Attn: Madeira Relief Fund 50 Madeira Avenue New Bedford, MA 02746

O Jornal writers Lurdes C. da Silva and Ric Oliveira contributed to this report