By Raphael Alves
Anama, Brazil, May 28 (EFE).- “Welcome to the Venice of the Amazon,” reads the sign greeting arrivals to Anamã in northern Brazil. Every year, the river swells to invade the town’s streets, but locals are now preparing for what is expected to be the worst flood in recent memory.
Residents have swapped cars for canoes, whilst snakes and alligators roam into their stilt homes.
For weeks, Noé Vieira do Carmo has watched the rising water threatening to reach his cattle, tucked on top of a muddy mound he raised himself to protect the animals.
“I thank god for that mound. I have not lost any animals, but the river will continue to swell and I have nothing but that strip of land,” he says.
Built near the upper course of the Amazon river, the city is vulnerable to floods, which can easily submerge its streets.
The water level is currently 17 meters high, and is on track to break its maximum height reached in 2015, at 18.24 meters.
But the presence of wild animals is as big a threat as the torrent of water itself, which is infested with alligators, snakes, scorpions, and poisonous spiders.
“The alligators are attacking the dogs, and I am scared of them getting close to my small oxen,” says Noé.
The farmer, 44 years old, has lost his whole banana, papaya and passion fruit harvest in the rural surroundings of Anamã in the Vila do Cuinha community, 160 kilometers from Manaos, state capital of the Amazon.
“We wagered everything this year. We prepared new soil and did our best planting. No one was expecting this. In only 15 days the water quickly rose and destroyed everything,” he says.
“Now we have to wait. When the ground emerges back up, we try again. For now, we survive.”
Noé, named after the biblical figure, moves around on a wooden canoe, like many others in the town of 14,000 people.
It is a sight that is typical of the state of Amazonas, where at least 50 out of 62 municipalities have been affected by swelling rivers.
Anamã has been an “amphibious city” for years, forced to adapt to floods with the construction of marombas, wooden stilt homes.
“Every year the street is inundated, but this year the water has entered our homes. We used all our money to build this house, but it was swamped anyway,” says fisherwoman Ana Pinto, 43 years old.
Many families have been forced out of their homes, drinking water is cloudy and foul-smelling, stores are out of supplies and hospital patients are treated on rafts.
Despite having greatly suffered the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the torrent has also whirled away any worries about the spread of the disease.
No one wears a face mask in the Anamã canals and the virus is not a subject of conversation. They are only worried about the water levels. EFE