The Amazonia of Perú has two large rivers: the Ucayali that runs south to north along the eastern side of the Andes, and the Marañon that starts in the mountains and runs north and then east. These two rivers converge south of Iquitos and then become the Amazon River.
Every year in the rainy season, rainwater and melting glacier water drain into these two rivers and at the convergence it overflows its banks and creates a massive floodplain, for hundreds of square miles. However, this year, 2012, has broken all records to date.
Normally, the Amazon rises 16-30 feet and many parts of Belen and Bella Vista always flood, but this year the flooding has affected over 200,000 people from many different areas of the nation.
These flood waters normally do not begin to recede until some time in May, but what with the water continuing to rise, there is no way to tell when we will see dry ground again in these areas.
When the water begins to recede there are still many problems that will challenge the people where the flooding has occurred. There will be the knee-deep mud to contend with and then the low-lying areas of water to breed mosquitoes, bringing with it plagues of malaria and dengue fever, just to name a couple.
This is the second year in a row that the flooding has been fierce and therefore crops have been non-existent for that long, which accounts for the unusual hunger in these areas. There will be no more crops in the ground until some time after the floods have receded.
We left Iquitos on March 30, and proceeded to the Marañon River loaded with 7 tons of beans, rice, farina, salt, sardines, matches and apart from that we had bibles, glasses, medications and blankets and 31 workers aboard. We ministered to the needs of some of the pueblos there where the houses were under water and moved on to the Tahuayo, Maniti and Amazon Rivers, meeting the needs of the people.
We found some living in their rafters where they had slid some boards across them, but with many holes in their roof everything was getting and staying wet. Some were living in their canoes and many had moved into Iquitos. Some had made rafts and were staying there along with their few livestock. Some had only kerosene sterno cans to cook with and others built fires right on the flooring of their rafters. One lady had a rat in her kettle to cook and in another house a lady had a large frog she had caught for their meal. Another pueblo there were about 25 mothers who were getting all of their food together so that all the children could eat one meal that day.
We found many kids alone at their houses because both parents had left in their canoes in search of food. Imagine their happy surprise when they returned and found the food we were able to leave with the children!
We plan to go out again as soon as possible to continue bringing relief as we were the only ones to have visited the pueblos in which we worked.
Susie Dempsey April 10, 2012