So everyone thought that our epic flood in 2012 was a fluke 100 year flood. Well, I think that idea came from the climate change deniers. I knew that something wasn’t right when each year since 2012 we have had more than normal flooding. Worldwide there have been extremes ranging from drought to deluge. In the ten years I have been living in the Amazon River Basin I have witnessed record drought and record flood.
It is time for the world to come to grips that the earth we live in is dynamic, changeable sometimes volatile but always awesome. There is more water available now than there has been for thousands of years.
As of now, the level of the Amazon River is close to rivaling our epic flood of 2012. We were lucky in 2012 that the floods did not obligate our lodge to close like so many other lodges in lower lying areas. Right now, roughly 70% of jungle lodges located in Loreto are either closed or executing provisional floors and bathrooms so they can stay in business.
For Otorongo Expediitons the flood is an inconvenience, not a danger. Inconvenient because I had to pull many ornamental plants from my garden and we have lost many crops such as yucca, plantain, papaya and squash. Since 2012 I have been very careful what I plant where and the damage would have been a lot more if I hadn’t had that idea that the flood could come back with a vengeance. ( I had a vision of water up to my doorknobs)
Local river dwellers in the area are affected mostly in the lowlands where their houses are half under water. They now have no land to work on and no farms to harvest food from. Luckily ” people on the river are happy to give” (Creedence Clearwater revival). There is plenty of high ground in Oran so we are receiving refugees and helping out whoever we can. On a more pleasing note, there are great migrations of fish swimming upstream even under people’s houses so there is fish to be eaten. In the confluence of Nanay and Amazon River, there was a record amount fisherman extracting metric tonnes of fish daily, more than has been witnessed in many years.
Now it is up to locals to take the measures to either relocate their houses or build them higher because these floods are going to be the new norm. The National Government of Peru declared to all families living in floodplains to take the proper precautions for future floods and there will be little to no aid for those who do not heed the warning. This may seem heartless but when you consider the amount of people and the space in which they are dispersed. It would only make sense that each person takes responsibility for the safety of themselves and their familes.
Every household has a canoe or a boat, possibly several so there are not people trapped on rooftops like you would see in an urban flooding situation. The locals are accustomed to living so close to the water, and even accustomed to losing crops each year due to the flooding. This is a temporary inconvenience and the resilient people of the Amazon will prevail. Otorngo expeditions will be putting it’s part for the worst affected in our district mainly in the village of San Gregorio and Santa Rosa by providing a few kilos of rice and plantains.
The biggest threats are as follows :
Children drowning due to inadequate fencing or railings around houses.
Upper and lower respiratory infections due to the humidity and closeness to water. ( Expecially when the water begins recede and the mud left over begins to multiply with bacterial and other microorganisms.Loss of crops
Stepping on stingrays, electric fish or unseen potholes
Hoards of floating fire ant colonies adrift at the mercy of the current and winds waiting to get a foothold on something dry. ( like the post of a house)
The biggest advantages of the floods:
More water means more fish. For a region that depends on fish production, this is the bes.t thing that can happen for their economy. Fish from landlocked lakes can escape, breed and feed in extensive flooded forest.
Fertilization of flood planes from rich Amazonian sediments originating in the Andes mountains
Eradication of chiggers, grass lice or other plagues of insects in cultivations.
If you are planning a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, make sure you ask about provisional flooring, I am a true believer that houses should be abandoned until water recedes no matter the costs. There shouldn’t be people habitations flooded houses, everyone needs to have dry floors or head to high ground.
Here are a few photos of the flood from this year. My gardens , a provisional porch and bridges for access. As soon as he water recedes, we will be making these structures permanent . The national service of hydrography has advised that the river is still to come up another 20cm