Thousands Evacuated in Asuncion as Paraguay River Threatens to Flood

Authorities in Paraguay say that levels of the Paraguay River in Asunción are moving closer to flood stage.

The latest figures say that the Paraguay River stood at 5.45 metres. Local media say that flood stage is considered to be 5.50 metres. Levels appear to be rising daily, and increased by 2cm between 08 and 09 June.

Levels of the Paraguay River at Asuncion
Levels of the Paraguay River at Asuncion, 08 June.  Levels increased a further 2cm by 09 June. Image: Administración Nacional de Navegación y Puertos, Paraguay

According to the Consejo Municipal de Emergencias y Desastres de Asunción (Comueda), 4,917 families in the low-lying bañados areas of the city have already been evacuated as a precaution. 2,455 families have moved from Bañado Sur, and 2,462 from Bañado Norte. They are currently staying in shelters that have been set up in conjunction with Paraguay’s National Emergency Secretariat / Secretaría de Emergencia Nacional (SEN). However, many of those threatened by the floods wish to remain in or close to their homes. Instead of evacuating to the shelters, many choose to sleep in the city’s public places, such as in plazas or on sidewalks.

In a TV interview on Monday, Minister of National Emergency Secretariat (SEN), Joaquín Roa Burgos, indicated that his agency is aware that the affected families fear losing their houses and possessions and therefore want to settle close to their homes. However, he stressed that vulnerable families will be safer and better cared for in the emergency shelters that have been set up.

Shelters being set up for those threatened by floods in Asuncion, Paraguay. Photo: SEN
Shelters being set up for those threatened by floods in Asuncion, Paraguay. Photo: SEN
Floods regularly force residents of the Bañados to re-locate. This photos is from 2012. Photo: Juan Andrés Del Puerto González under Creative Commons
Floods regularly force residents of the Bañados to re-locate. This photos is from 2012. Photo: Juan Andrés Del Puerto González under Creative Commons

Last year, levels of the river reached over 7 metres in Asunción, displacing over 70,000 people and, at one point, flood waters threatened to reach a pool of toxic waste and sewage situated next to the landfill Cateura site.

Refuse and waste from the Cateura dump floating on the swollen Paraguay river, June 2014. Photo: Color ABC
Refuse and waste from the Cateura dump floating on the swollen Paraguay river, June 2014. Photo: Color ABC