IRANDUBA, Brazil ( Associated Press) — For the second year in a row, residents of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being overwhelmed by floods, and hundreds of thousands of people have already been affected by rising water levels.
The heavy rains that have fallen in the Amazon in the last two years are associated with the La Niña phenomenon, which occurs when the currents of the Pacific Ocean affect global weather patterns and which, according to scientists, is intensified by climate change.
In Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, flood levels have been tracked since 1902, and in the past decade there have been seven of the worst floods, including this year’s.
“Unfortunately, severe flooding has been happening repeatedly in the last decade,” Luna Gripp, a geoscience researcher who monitors river levels in the western Amazon for the Geological Survey of the United States, told The Associated Press in a text message. Brazil. “It is confirmation that extreme weather events are on the rise.”
In the Brazilian state of Amazonas alone, an estimated 367,000 people were affected by the rising waters, according to the state’s civil defense authority.
The Negro River reached a depth of 29.37 meters (96 feet) on Monday at the Manaus measurement station, compared with a record 30.02 meters (98 feet) recorded last year.
“Last year I faced a flood, and now I am dealing with the flood of 2022,” said Raimundo Reis, a fisherman who lives with his son in Iranduba, a city across from Manaus, on the other side of the Negro River.
He uses wooden boards to improvise a raised floor inside his house and stay above the water.
“Life on the river is what you see: many difficulties and unfulfilled promises. Politicians only come here at election time,” says Reis, who has not gotten any help from the government.
Flooding in Manaus typically peaks in mid-June, taking weeks — sometimes months — to subside.
Last year, the Negro River stayed above the 29-meter (95-foot) flood line for 90 days.
Currently, the Jurua, Purus, Madeira, Solimoes and Amazonas rivers are also overflowing, which has caused 35 municipalities in the state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.
The floods cause significant damage to agriculture, which traditionally takes place in the Amazon near the riverbanks, where the soil is more fertile, the head of the state’s civil defense authority, Charlis Barros, told the Associated Press by phone. That makes food distribution one of the most urgent needs right now, he noted.
Maisonnave reported from Rio de Janeiro.