The storms hitting southern Brazil over the past few weeks have caused 17 towns in Rio Grande do Sul state to declare a state of emergency, local authorities said Tuesday. According to the local Civil Defense services, a total of 1,564 families had to flee their homes due to floods and mudslides. Though most went to relatives or friends for shelter, 164 families remained in public shelters. The flood of the Jurai River caused a bridge in a small town of Cachoeira do Sul to collapse on Sunday. Another two bridges in the region were closed since the water submerged the highway. Uruguay and Argentina have also been affected by the bad weather. In the Brazil-Uruguay border region, water level of the Quarai River reached record-high 15 meters. Heavy storms are common in Brazil during summer and the rain often leads to floods, causing evacuations and casualties.