Seeing how the intense flooding due to erratic ENSO cycles (El Nino Southern Occilations) is having quite an impact on the west coast of North and South America, I feel the need to elaborate on the following: the impacts on coastal Peru and the impacts on the Amazon Drainage basin.
First of all, due to prolonged climatic stability, places of high flood danger have been occupied for several decades on substrates and elevations that are not adequately sheltered in case of natural disasters.
Coastal Region of Peru
In the case of the coastal region of Peru, all the substrate is an elevated seafloor with large cobbles placed on top of coarse sand. With a little imagination , just think about removing the fine sand from underneath the larger cobbles, with water, and you get avulsive erosion of stream beds and banks.
So consider all these inhabitants teetering on the edge of an unstable intermittent or (ephemeral) stream bed that rarely gets any rain, coupled with poor civil engineering. Sounds like a recipe for disaster right?
Right, so now to travel north or south on the coast uninterrupted, one must use a boat because over 2000km of roads and bridges have been wiped out.
Luckily Peru is NOT a poor country (just loaded with poor public officials that squander money from civil development projects) so we can figure that the roads and bridges on the coast will be repaired completely by the start of next year 2018.
The good news is that the major part of the rains on the coast have subsided and people are much more aware now, where is an appropriate place to build a home. The donations are flooding in from all over the world (pun intended). Just as fast as the victims are receiving aid, we receive reports of poorly managed donations being swindled by local authorities (I wish I were Joking).
Ancient cultures of Peru such as the Mochis had protocol for such events, these landslides were even welcomed as the bringers of fertile land to the floodplains. Irrigation ditches made by Mochis helped disperse the sediment and water to the fields. Similar situations left other cultures stranded and hungry by lack of preparation. It is all about how we look at things, how we prepare or adapt to them.
Amazon River side, all is normal
People here are adapted to living with seasonal floods. Living with water rolling under your house for a few months is nothing new to Amazonians so please do not believe the State of Emergency (used once again by crooked public officials to steal millions) If you don t believe me, just ask the president of Peru PPK. (how could one raincoat cost $500.00 ?)
Anyhow, we have thousands of miles of ecosystems that depend on seasonal flooding, back in 2012 when we had our first epic flood, the regional government (GOREL) aided thousands of people who were flooded out, the GOREL also made it very clear to everyone that this is the new norm for seasonal flooding. Actions needed to be taken by affected citizens: find a new place to live, or build your house high because a state of emergency shall not be called again if floods like this should occur in the future.
In conclusion, come to Iquitos, we are having a blast! Business as usual!