ASUNCION – About 1,000 people have been affected by the rise in the Paraguay River, which runs through Asuncion, with the water level on Wednesday at 4.6 meters (15 feet) and causing flooding in the capital’s Bañados zone along the river’s course.
In just five days, the river waters have risen 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) due to the normal seasonal rise in the watercourse, but this has been compounded by intense rains, Victor Hugo Julio Peralta, the head of the capital’s emergency and disasters department, told EFE.
Peralta said that about 200 families – or around 1,000 people – had been affected by the flooding and that around 350 of those people are currently being housed in shelters set up by the National Emergency Secretariat, where they are being provided with sheets of plywood and support boards to allow them to build shacks, albeit rickety ones.
Municipal personnel are providing assistance with moving the people affected by the flooding to areas farther from the river and setting up the shelters, trying to prevent the homeless people from erecting their shacks on squares and along streets, as has occurred in earlier flooding.
Peralta added that the river level changes “from day to day,” adding that it is expected to reach its maximum in either June or July, when the level could rise to 5.5 meters, affecting some 2,500 people who live in nearby low-lying areas.
He said that the work being undertaken by the Public Works and Communications Ministry in the Bañados zone to build a street is making water circulation problematic, allowing some areas to quickly become flooded.
The construction has been opposed by the residents of Bañados, who are asking that the roadway infrastructure be transformed into a flood barrier to protect the area from flooding and provide a definitive solution to that periodic problem.
The level of the Paraguay River as it passes through Asuncion has risen “considerably” since mid-April, climbing about 2 meters during that time, according to the National Meteorology and Hydrology Directorate.
Paraguay registered flooding in late April in the southern province of Ñeembucu, which is bordered by both the Parana and Paraguay Rivers, both of which run along the frontier with Argentina.
There, some 29,000 people had their homes or livelihoods damaged after heavy rains.
In December 2015, flooding in Asuncion associated with El Niño forced about 100,000 people to abandon their homes and move to precarious wooden shacks built on public land.