Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon, began tracking flood levels in 1902 and has seen seven of its worst floods in decades, including this year.
“Unfortunately, there have been repeated catastrophic floods over the past decade,” Luna Grip, a geologist who monitors river levels in the western Amazon for the Brazilian Geological Survey, told The Associated Press in a text message. “It is certain that extreme climate events are on the rise.”
In the Amazonas state of Brazil alone, an estimated 367,000 people have been affected by rising water, the state’s civil defense authority says.
The Negro River reached a depth of 29.37 meters (96 feet) on Monday at the Manaus measurement center, compared to last year’s record of 30.02 meters.
“I faced last year’s floods, and now I’m dealing with the 2022 floods,” said Raimundo Reis, a fisherman who lives with his son in the city of Iranduba, across the river from Manaus.
He is using wooden planks to create a high floor inside his house and to stay above water.
“River-dwelling life is what you see – a lot of difficulties and unfulfilled promises. Politicians only come here during the election season,” said Reiss, who has not received any help from the government.
The maximum flooding in Manaus usually occurs in mid-June and it takes weeks – sometimes even months – to subside. Last year, the Negro River was above the 29-meter flood line for 90 days.
The Jurua, Purus, Madeira, Solimos and Amazon rivers are now flooded, prompting 35 municipalities in the Amazonas state to declare a state of emergency.
The floods caused significant damage to agriculture, traditionally near riverbanks in the Amazon where the soil is more fertile, the head of the state’s civil defense authority, Charles Barros, told the AP over the phone. This makes food distribution one of the most urgent needs at the moment, he said.
Masonov reports from Rio de Janeiro.