Brazil – Acre River Reaches Record Levels in Rio Branco

Floods have been affecting thousands of people in the state of Acre, northern Brazil, since 23 February 2015, when some of the state’s rivers, in particular the River Acre, overflowed.

Further heavy rainfall has forced river levels higher still, and on 03 March 2015 Brazil’s federal government declared a state of emergency in Acre.

One of the worst affected areas is the state capital, Rio Branco. By early evening (local time) yesterday 04 March 2015, levels of the River Acre reached a record 18.40 metres. Flood stage is thought to be 14 metres. Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM) were expecting levels to rise further still over the next 12 hours.

Floods in Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo: Sérgio Vale/ Secom (03/03/2015)
Floods in Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo: Sérgio Vale/ Secom (03/03/2015)

The current flood situation has been described as the worst in 132 years. The government of Acre has said that, although exact numbers are difficult to verify, almost 90,000 people have been affected by the floods in the state since they first began in late February.

53 neighborhoods in the city have been affected by the floods. At least 30 rural communities across the state have also been flooded. One person has died after she was electrocuted entering her flooded home in Rio Branco.

Currently there are 9,251 people staying in one of the 26 shelters in Rio Branco set up for those displaced by the floods. There are around over 4,000 people thought to have evacuated their homes to stay with relatives or friends.

Levels of the Iaco River, also in Acre state, are extremely high and have flooded areas nearby, including Sena Madureira, where over 350 people have been displaced and are staying in temporary camps.

The River Acre runs forms parts of the border between Brazil and Bolivia. In late February the river caused flooding in Bolivia’s Pando department. at the time, the mayor of San Pedro de Bolpebra, a small town on the banks of the River Acre, said that his community had been almost completely swept away by flood waters.

“The river waters rose to 14m [46ft] above their normal level, so between the community and the authorities we have decided to rebuild a new town to avoid more damage” he said.