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In Brazil's Amazon, rivers rise to record levels

The Rio Negro was at its highest level since records started in 1902, with a depth of 29.98 meters (98 ft ) in the port's measuring channel. The nearby Solimoes and Amazon rivers were also nearing all-time highs, flooding streets and homes in dozens of municipalities and affecting some 450,000 people in the region.

Higher-than-usual precipitation is connected with the La Nina phenomenon, when currents in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean affect global climate patterns. Environmental specialists and associations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say there is strong evidence that human activity and global warming are changing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including La Nina.

Seven of the 10 largest floods in the Amazon basin have occurred in the past 13 decades, information from Brazil's state-owned Geological Survey reveals.

"If we continue to ruin the Amazon how we do, the climatic anomalies will become more and more accentuated," said Virgílio Viana, manager of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation, a nonprofit." Greater floods on the 1 hand, higher droughts on the other."

Large swaths of Brazil are currently drying up in a serious drought, with a possible shortfall in electricity generation from the country's hydroelectric plants and raised power prices, government authorities have warned.

Simas has lived at the working neighborhood of Sao Jorge since 1974 and is used to watching the river rise and fall with the seasons. Simas likes her neighborhood since it's safe and clean. But the accelerating pace of the flooding in the last decade has her worried.

"By 1974 until lately, a long time passed and we wouldn't see any water. It was a regular location," she said.

After the river will overflow its banks and flood her road, she and other occupants use boards and beams to build rudimentary scaffolding within their homes to boost their flooring over the water.

"I believe human beings have contributed a lot (for this circumstance," she said. "Nature does not forgive. She comes and does not wish to know if you're prepared to face her or not."

Flooding has a substantial impact on local businesses such as farming and cattle ranching. A number of operations have seen their production vanish beneath water. Others have been not able to reach their stores, offices and market stalls or clients.

"With these floods, we're out of work," said Elias Gomes, a 38-year-old inspector at Cacau Pirera, on the opposite side of the Rio Negro, though noticed he's been in a position to make somewhat by hauling neighbors in his small wooden boat.

Gomes is currently seeking to move into a more densely populated region in which floods will not threaten his livelihood.

Limited accessibility to banking in distant parts of the Amazon can make things worse for residents, who are often unable to have loans or monetary compensation for lost production, said Viana, of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation. "That is a very clear instance of climate injustice: People who least contributed to global warming and climate change are the most affected."

Meteorologists say Amazon water levels could continue to rise slightly until late June or July, when floods usually peak.

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