geography essay on floods

Geography Assignment

Floods are large quantities of water which have been flowed onto what should have been dry land. There are three types of floods. Slow-onset floods, rapid-onset floods and flash floods. Slow-onset floods usually only occur in WA, NSW and QLD. On inland Rivers and around flat areas.They take days to build up and can last form 1 week up to months on end. It results in loss of crop, livestock, roads and railways. Rapid-onset floods effect most towns and cities across Australia. They are far more damaging compared to slow-onset, more lives and property are lost. This is because there is a faster rush of water and less time for people to help prevent more damage being done. Flash floods effect most of Australia's urban suburbs, they are caused from a short time of intense bursts of heavy rainfall (usually from thunderstorms), it floods because the drainage cannot cope with the amount of water being sucked through. More deaths are confirmed during flash floods because people just try to walk through the gushing water and get sucked into drains. Flooding is caused from heavy rain fall, s...

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Fresh Water Environments

Floods , an overflow of water in one place, are a natural part of the water cycle, but they can be terrifying forces of destruction. Floods can occur for a variety of reasons, and their effects can be minimized in several ways. Perhaps unsurprisingly, floods tend to affect low-lying areas most severely. Floods usually occur when precipitation falls more quickly than that water can be absorbed into the ground or carried away by rivers or streams. Waters may build up gradually throughout weeks when an extended period of rainfall or snowmelt fills the ground with water and raises stream levels.

Flash floods are sudden and unexpected, taking place when very heavy rains fall over a very brief period. A flash flood may do its damage miles from where the rain falls if the water travels far down a dry streambed so that the flash flood occurs far from the location of the original storm.

Densely vegetated lands are less likely to experience flooding. Plants slow down water as it runs over the land, giving it time to enter the ground. Even if the ground is too wet to absorb more water, plants still slow the water’s passage and increase the time between rainfall and the water’s arrival in a stream; this could keep all the water falling over a region to hit the stream at once. Wetlands function as a buffer between land and high-water levels and play a key role in minimizing the impacts of floods. Flooding is often more severe in areas that have been recently logged.

When a dam breaks along a reservoir, flooding can be catastrophic. High water levels have also caused small dams to break, wreaking havoc downstream. People try to protect areas that might flood with dams, and dams are remarkably effective. People may also line a riverbank with levees , high walls that keep the stream within its banks during floods. A levee in one location may force the high water up or downstream and cause flooding there. The New Madrid Overflow in the image above was created with the recognition that the Mississippi River sometimes cannot be contained by levees and must be allowed to flood.

Not all the consequences of flooding are negative. Rivers deposit new nutrient-rich sediments when they flood, and so floodplains have traditionally been suitable for farming. Flooding as a source of nutrients was essential to Egyptians along the Nile River until the Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s. Although the dam protects crops and settlements from the annual floods, farmers must now use fertilizers to feed their crops.

Floods are also responsible for moving substantial amounts of sediments about within streams. These sediments provide habitats for animals, and the periodic movement of sediment is crucial to the lives of several types of organisms. Plants and fish along the Colorado River, for example, depend on seasonal flooding to rearrange sand bars.

Physical Geography and Natural Disasters by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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A flood happens when water overflows or soaks land that is normally dry. There are few places on Earth where people don’t need to be concerned about flooding.

Ecology, Earth Science, Geology, Engineering, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography, World History

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A flood happens when water overflows or soaks land that is normally dry. There are few places on Earth where people don’t need to be concerned about flooding. Generally, floods take hours or even days to develop, giving residents time to prepare or evacuate . Sometimes, floods develop quickly and with little warning. A flood can develop in a many ways. The most common is when rivers or streams overflow their banks . These floods are called riverine floods . Heavy rain , a broken dam or levee , rapid icemelt in the mountains, or even a beaver dam in a vulnerable spot can overwhelm a river and send it spreading over nearby land. The land surrounding a river is called a flood plain . Coastal flooding , also called estuarine flooding , happens when a large storm or tsunami causes the sea to rush inland . Floods are the second-most widespread natural disaster on Earth, after wildfires . All 50 states of the United States are vulnerable to flooding. Effects of Floods When floodwaters recede , affected areas are often blanketed in silt and mud. This sediment can be full of nutrients , benefiting farmers and agribusinesses in the area. Famously fertile flood plains like the Mississippi River valley in the American Midwest, the Nile River valley in Egypt, and the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East have supported agriculture for thou sands of years. Yearly flooding has left millions of tons of nutrient-rich soil behind. However, floods have enormous destructive power. When a river overflows its banks or the sea moves inland, many structures are unable to withstand the force of the water. Bridges, houses, trees, and cars can be picked up and carried off. Floods erode soil, taking it from under a building's foundation , causing the building to crack and tumble. Severe flooding in Bangladesh in July 2007 led to more than a million homes being damaged or destroyed. Floods can cause even more damage when their waters recede. The water and landscape can be contaminated with hazardous materials, such as sharp debris , pesticides , fuel , and untreated sewage . Potentially dangerous mold can quickly overwhelm water-soaked structures. As flood water spreads, it carries disease . Flood victims can be left for weeks without clean water for drinking or hygiene . This can lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases like typhoid , malaria , hepatitis A, and cholera . This happened in 2000, as hundreds of people in Mozambique fled to refugee camps after the Limpopo River flooded their homes. They soon fell ill and died from cholera, which is spread by unsanitary conditions, and malaria, spread by mosquitoes that thrived on the swollen river banks. In the United States, floods are responsible for an average of nearly 100 deaths every year, and cause about $7.5 billion in damage. China's Yellow River valley has seen some of the world's worst floods in the past 100 years. The 1931 Yellow River flood is one of the most devastating natural disasters ever recorded—almost a million people drowned, and even more were left homeless. Natural Causes of Floods Floods occur naturally. They are part of the water cycle , and the environment is adapted to flooding. Wetlands along river banks, lakes , and estuaries absorb flood waters. Wetland vegetation , such as trees, grasses, and sedges , slow the speed of flood waters and more evenly distribute their energy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , the wetlands along the Mississippi River once stored at least 60 days of flood water. (Today, Mississippi wetlands store only 12 days of flood water. Most wetlands have been filled or drained.) Floods can also devastate an environment. The most vulnerable regions are those that experience frequent floods and those that have not flooded for many years. In the first case, the environment does not have time to recover between floods. In the second case, the environment may not be able to adapt to flood conditions. In August 2010, Pakistan experienced some of the worst floods of the century . The annual monsoon , on which Pakistani farmers and consumers rely, was unusually strong. Tons of water drenched the nation. The Indus River burst its banks. Because the river flows almost directly through the narrow country, almost all of Pakistan was affected by flooding. Millions of Pakistanis lost their homes, and almost 2,000 died in the floods. The province of Punjab, the country’s agricultural center, was particularly devastated. Rice, wheat, and corn crops were destroyed. The impact of the floods continued long after the monsoon dwindled and the Indus subsided . Pakistanis experienced food shortages, power outages, and loss of infrastructure . Outbreaks of cholera and malaria developed near resettlement camps. Experts estimated that the rebuilding effort would cost up to $15 billion. Sometimes, floods are triggered by other natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. In January 2011, a major earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The quake triggered a massive tsunami, its crest reaching as high as 40 meters (131 feet). The tsunami crashed more than 10 kilometers (six miles) inland, flooding homes, businesses, schools, parks, hospitals, and the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant . A dam holding a reservoir burst, triggering another flood that destroyed homes. Rain that accompanies hurricanes and cyclones can quickly flood coastal areas. The rise in sea level that occurs during these storms is called a storm surge . A storm surge is a type of coastal flood. They can be devastating. The storm surge that accompanied the 1970 Bhola cyclone flooded the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta in India and Bangladesh. More than 500,000 people were killed, and twice that number were left homeless. The strong winds associated with hurricanes and cyclones can also whip up and move huge amounts of water, forcing a storm surge far inland. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina brought huge amounts of wind and rain to the Gulf Coast of the United States. The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, was particularly hard-hit. The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina caused some of the city’s levees to break. Levees protect New Orleans from the Mississippi River. The river rushed in and flooded entire neighborhoods . Hundreds of people drowned, and the storm did more than $100 billion in damage. Artificial Causes of Floods Floods can also have artificial sources. Many man-made floods are intentional and controlled. Rice farmers, for instance, rely on flooded fields. Rice is a semi-aquatic crop—it grows in water. After rice seedlings are planted, farmers flood their fields, called rice paddies, in about 15 to 25 centimeters (six to 10 inches) of water. Rice paddies must be carefully engineered to allow controlled flooding. Strong dikes or levees, as well as regulated channels for irrigation , are required. Sometimes, engineers flood an area to restore an ecosystem . In 2008, the U.S.'s Grand Canyon was deliberately flooded. Water was released from dams on the Colorado River , which runs through the Grand Canyon. In 20 minutes, enough water was released from a dam at Lake Powell, Utah, to fill up the Empire State Building. Hydrologists , engineers, and environmentalists hoped that flooding the canyon would help redistribute sediment—which had been blocked up by dams—and create sandbars . Sandbars provide a wildlife habitat , often serving as a shallow bridge for animals such as beavers and bighorn sheep to cross from one side of the river to the other. Dams control the natural flood plains of lakes and rivers. Hydrologists may intentionally flood areas to prevent damage to the dam or increase the water supply for agriculture, industry , or consumer use. Engineers may also intentionally flood areas to prevent the possibility of worse flooding. When heavy rains caused the Souris River to flood in 2011, for example, the water level nearly reached the top of the Alameda Reservoir in Oxbow, Saskatchewan, Canada. Faced with the prospect of catastrophic flooding if the entire dam broke, engineers chose to release huge amounts of water. The reservoir remained intact , but the release contributed to massive floods in both Saskatchewan and the U.S. city of Minot, North Dakota. Not all man-made floods are intentional, however. The natural banks of rivers and streams shrink as people develop land nearby. River banks are valuable real estate for housing, businesses, and industry. From Shanghai, China, to San Antonio, Texas, U.S., rivers are the sites of busy urban areas . In rural areas, factories use river currents to distribute runoff . To accommodate such development , river banks are paved with hard, non-porous materials. Soils and plants are replaced with concrete and asphalt , which can’t absorb water. An unusual amount of rain can cause these rivers to quickly overrun their concrete banks. Australia is conducting an investigation of Brisbane’s development decisions after the Brisbane River overran its banks and flooded the country’s capital in 2011. Streets, downtown business districts, and bridges were destroyed. Water reached the third row of seats in the city’s rugby stadium. The flood waters were high enough at two meters (six feet) that bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) were spotted swimming up major streets. Concrete banks also increase the amount of runoff flowing to nearby bodies of water. This increases the risk of coastal flooding. Venice, Italy, for instance, is frequently flooded as tides from the Adriatic Sea seep into the heavily developed islands on which the city rests.

Hydrologists, engineers, and city planners constantly work to reduce flood damage. Shrubs and plants create buffers to prevent runoff from seeping into flood plains, urban areas, or other bodies of water. The thick vegetation between a river and a flood plain is called a riparian zone . Despite their efforts, people can also radically fail to control floods. The most famous flood in American history, the Johnstown Flood , was an artificial disaster. The tragedy killed 2,209 people and made headlines around the country. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S., was on a floodplain at the meeting of the Stony Creek and Little Conemaugh rivers. As more people moved to the city, the banks of the rivers were paved and narrowed, causing yearly flooding. Residents were prepared for this. They watched the river and moved their belongings upstairs or onto rooftops as the city flooded. However, residents were not prepared for the additional flood from an entire lake. Located in nearby mountains, Lake Conemaugh was a reservoir created by the South Fork Dam. The lake was an exclusive retreat for members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, which owned the dam. Lake Conemaugh contained 20 million tons of water. On May 31, 1889, the dam broke and the water rushed down the river at 64 kilometers (40 miles) per hour. Johnstown’s leading industry was steel production, and the flood waters quickly became choked with industrial debris—steel cables , chemical solvents , glass, rail cars. The flood destroyed a wire factory, filling the water with tons of barbed wire . About 80 people died when floating wreckage caught fire. Rebuilding Johnstown took years—the bodies of some victims were not found until 20 years later. Although the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club failed to maintain the dam, members of the club successfully argued that the disaster was an “ act of God .” Flood Classification Disaster experts classify floods according to their likelihood of occurring in a given time period. The most common classifications are a 10-year flood, a 50-year flood, and a 100-year flood . A 100-year flood, for example, is an extremely large, destructive event that would be expected to happen only once every century. But this is only an estimate. What “100-year flood” actually means is that there is a 1 percent chance that such a flood could happen in any given year. In recent decades, 100-year floods have occurred more frequently. This may be due to global warming , the current period of climate change . The Red River, which flows along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, chronically floods. Anything over 8.5 meters (28 feet) is considered “ flood stage ” in the area. In 1997, the river crested at almost 12 meters (40 feet), a record level. In 2009, the record was beaten as the river flooded again, reaching a height of almost 12.5 meters (40.8 feet). The river flooded for 61 days. Flash floods can develop within hours of heavy rainfall. Flash floods can be extremely dangerous, instantly turning a babbling brook into a thundering wall of water that sweeps away everything in its path. Most deaths from flooding occur as a result of flash floods. Flash floods do not have a system for classifying their magnitude . Deserts are vulnerable to flash floods. Wadis and arroyos are dry river beds that only flow during heavy rains. Wadis can be dangerous during flash floods because they rarely have riparian zones to slow the flood’s energy. The city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, developed on the site of several wadis, and floods are frequent after heavy rains. More than 100 people died in flash floods in Jeddah in 2009. The floods developed so quickly that many victims drowned in their cars as streets became submerged . Predicting Floods Today, hydrologists study past flood patterns to help predict where and when floods will happen in the future. The predictions are only estimates, however. Weather , land, and climate can all change. An area’s soil and groundwater provide clues about flooding. Pedologists , or soil scientists, work with hydrologists to determine how much water a region’s earth can absorb. Agricultural soil, for instance, can absorb much more water than sand or bare rock . Groundwater is water already in the earth—in soil, underground reservoirs called aquifers , and even porous rocks. The type of soil and the amount of groundwater tells hydrologists how much more water the earth can absorb. Determining the amount of runoff in an area can also provide clues about the possibility of flooding. Runoff happens when there is more water than soil can absorb. Excess water overflows and runs on top of the land. Runoff can come from natural processes, such as icemelt. It can also come from human activity, such as excess irrigation, sewage, and industrial waste. Controlling runoff can help control floods. Hydrologists work with meteorologists to evaluate snowfall and snowpack . Melting snow contributes to runoff and increases groundwater levels. When snow melts quickly, the ground may not have time to absorb the water. Snowfall is one of the biggest contributors to flooding, and cannot always be predicted. Rapid snowmelt in the Andes Mountains, for example, creates mudslides and floods that disable railways and bridges. In 2010, snowmelt flooding trapped 4,000 tourists in towns near the remote historic site of Machu Picchu, Peru, for two days. Modern technology helps researchers predict floods. Doppler radar , for example, shows scientists where a storm is most severe. Doppler uses motion to detect weather patterns and create computerized images of rainfall. Automated gauges placed in rivers measure the height and speed of river currents, and the amount of rain received. Geographic information system (GIS) maps made with this information help scientists warn people if a river will overrun its banks and flood areas nearby. Preventing Floods For thousands of years, people have tried to prevent and control floods. Yu the Great , for example, is a legendary figure in Chinese history. Around 2100 B.C.E., Yu developed a way to control the devastating floods of the Yellow River. Yu studied data from previous Yellow River floods, noting where the flow was the strongest and flood plains were most vulnerable. Instead of damming the river, Yu dredged it—he and a team of engineers made river channels deeper to accommodate more water. Yu also oversaw the construction of numerous irrigation canals , which diverted the flow of the river’s mainstem during times of flooding. It’s not always possible to prevent floods, but it is often possible to minimize flood damage. Structures around rivers, lakes, and the sea can contain flood waters. Levees, runoff canals , and reservoirs can stop water from overflowing. Levees are usually made of earth. They are built by piling soil, sand, or rocks near a river’s banks. Levees may also be made of blocks of wood, plastic, or metal. They may even be reinforced by concrete. Levees in New Orleans, for example, use compacted earth, wooden beams, iron rebar , steel pilings, and concrete to hold back the mighty Mississippi River. Runoff canals are man-made channels. These structures are connected to rivers and direct excess water away from buildings and residences. One of the first canals in North America was constructed in about 200 B.C.E. to control the seasonal flood waters of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, U.S. Today, southern Florida is criss-crossed by runoff canals that redirect the flow of the Everglades , the “River of Grass” that runs from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. These canals redirect flood water away from urban areas in southern Florida and toward irrigation canals primarily used for fields of sugar cane . Natural and artificial reservoirs help prevent flooding. Natural reservoirs are basins where freshwater collects. Man-made reservoirs collect water behind a dam. They can hold more water in times of heavy rainfall. In April 2011, the government of Ethiopia announced plans for a large dam on the Blue Nile River. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which would be the largest dam in Africa, would create a reservoir capable of holding 67 billion cubic meters (2.4 trillion cubic feet) of water. The dam would prevent flooding downstream and provide the nation with hydroelectric energy . Conserving wetlands also reduces the impact of floods. Wetlands provide a natural barrier, acting as a giant sponge for storm surges and flood plains. The swamps and bayous of America's southern Louisiana and Mississippi, for instance, protect inland areas from both coastal and riverine flooding. Wetlands absorb the storm surge from hurricanes that hit the area from the Gulf of Mexico. Wetland riparian zones that line the Mississippi River protect fertile flood plains as the river overflows its banks. Many governments mandate that residents of flood- prone areas purchase flood insurance and build flood-resistant structures. Massive efforts to mitigate and redirect floods have resulted in some of the most ambitious engineering efforts ever seen. The Thames Barrier is one of the largest flood-control projects in the world. The Thames Barrier protects the urban area of London, England, from floods from storm surges that rush up the River Thames from the Atlantic Ocean. A series of 10 steel gates span the river near London’s Woolrich district. Each gate can hold back 9,000 tons of water, and disappears into the river when the water is calm. Perhaps the most extensive and sophisticated flood-prevention program is the Zuiderzee Works in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a low-lying nation that is plagued by coastal flooding from the North Sea. Beginning in the 1200s, the Dutch began to erect a series of massive dikes and levees on its coast. In the 1900s, Dutch engineers worked to isolate and dam an entire inlet of the North Sea, the Zuiderzee. The largest part of the Zuiderzee Works is the Afsluitdijk , a 32-kilometer (20-mile) dike that cuts off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. In addition to protecting the Netherlands from flooding, the Zuiderzee Works has drained parts of the Zuiderzee for development.

Apres Moi, le Deluge "After me, the flood" (in French, " apres moi, le deluge ") is a phrase attributed to the French King Louis XV or his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. The phrase is a casual way of expressing irresponsibility, something like "When I leave a project, I don't care if a catastrophe happens. It no longer concerns me."

London Beer Flood In 1814, vats containing 1.47 million liters (388,333 gallons) of beer spilled in the St. Giles area of London, England. Several homes and businesses were destroyed, and seven people drowned.

Costliest U.S. Floods As of July 2011, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA): Hurricane Katrina (2005) $16.2 billion Hurricane Ike (2008) $2.6 billion Hurricane Ivan (2004) $1.2 billion Tropical Storm Allison (1989) $1.1 billion Louisiana Flood (1995) $585 million

Flood Myths Stories about great, Earth-drowning floods are common throughout world cultures. Many stories are remarkably similar: A deity warns a virtuous man about a catastrophic flood. The man builds a large boat, saving himself, his family, animals, and plants from the flood, which destroys the rest of Earth. Eventually, the man releases two birds to see if they bring back vegetation (which can only grow in soil). A bird returns, and human civilization is saved. The most famous version of this flood myth is probably the story of Noah, recorded in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. Another version is the Mesopotamian legend of Utnapishtim, recorded in the Legend of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, predating the Torah by more than a thousand years. The Maasai legend of Tumbainot, the Altai myth of Nama, and the Hawaiian myth of Nuu are all remarkably similar.

Flood as a War Tactic In 1937, the Chinese government destroyed the dike at Huayuankou, on the Yellow River, to stop the Japanese invasion. The invasion continued by a different route, but the environmental devastation of the flooding was immense. At least 800,000 people drowned, and more than a million were made homeless. More than a thousand square kilometers of farmland was underwater. Flooding changed the course of the Yellow River to such an extent that its mouth moved dozens of kilometers to the south. Ten years later, the dike at Huayuankou was rebuilt and the Yellow River resumed its previous course.

Boston Molasses Flood In 1919, an 8.7 million-liter (2.3 million-gallon) tank of molasses exploded in the North End area of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The wave of molasses crested as high as three meters (10 feet) and moved as quickly as 56 kilometers per hour (35 miles per hour). A train was lifted off its tracks, and 21 people died. Six months later, Boston Harbor remained brown with molasses.

"The Hero of Haarlem" A popular story concerns a young boy from the town of Haarlem, Netherlands, who notices a leak in the town's dike. The Spaarne River is flowing through a tiny hole in the barrier, threatening to flood the town. The young boy plugs the leak with his finger, and stays there all night. Adults find him the next morning and permanently repair the leak. Although first written about by an American (Mary Mapes Dodge, in her book Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates ), the story is from the Netherlands. The story has been changed and retold many times. In most versions, the dike is holding back the North Sea, not a river. In some versions of the story, the young boy freezes to death during his all-night stay at the dike.

Toxic Flood There are many examples of toxic materials, from pig manure to coal slurry, flooding communities. One of the most unusual was the 2010 rupture of a chemical storage tank at an aluminum factory in Ajka, Hungary. The bright-red sludge was responsible for at least four deaths, as well as the relocation of hundreds of Hungarians. The toxic sludge, which included lead and arsenic, was eventually diluted by the Danube River.

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Causes of Flood Essay

Floods are caused by many things. Many times it rains too much, other times a dam breaks; however, the effects of floods devastating. Floods can cause environmental losses as well and economical losses, land is washed away, homes are ruined, and people sometimes even die. This essay is about the causes and effects that flood have on our world.

Floods are caused by many things. One cause of a flood is when water exceeds the capacity of the area it is in; thus causing it to overflow outside the waters boundary. Another cause is the amount of rain that a certain area of land gets. When too much water has rained over a certain area, sewers start getting flooded, creating a backup and water starts to flow on streets. One more way of flooding is when dams break. Massive dams that hold water back prevent flooding. When the gate breaks, the water flows out of it and creates a flood.

Climates and environments have a lot to do with flooding also. A higher altitude might be exposed to more rain than a lower altitude. Also a damper, wetter climate creates it more susceptible for rain, which causes it to flood (flash flood) more frequently than a hot and dry climate. Hurricanes also effect floods to. When a hurricane reaches land, there is an enormous amount of water that is carried along with it. This water dumped on land and as water levels rise, flooding is created.

geography essay on floods

The effects of floods are devastating. Many times floods can destroy everything. Houses can be torn off their foundation because the water has made its structure weaker, tar can be been pulled off road causing major pot holes, earth can be sunken in creating a different landscape, tons of trees have the possibility of being ripped out. To see the effects after a flood is not a pretty site. Water has to be pumped out of flooded civilian areas.

Another thing that floods effect is the environmental and economical situations. When floods occur, there is a large amount of water that runs over the ground. Loose soil, rocks, and landscape can be dramatically altered, leaving behind a rugged, changed terrain. Loose soil can create mud slides, which create hazardous situations for living things nearby. The economy after the flood can be one of the greatest effected. Billions of dollars have been donated by a countries government to rebuild and payback what was lost. Many times these things include houses, roads, buildings, cars, schools, etc. Another thing that people loose in the event of floods is their jobs; consequently, after water damaging buildings and such, businesses can be run down, bankrupt and even, in existent. This causes lots of people to be jobless, which in effect, creates no way of paying for daily needs.

During floods, humans can lose so much. One of the most dangerous things a person could lose would be their life. If a person gets caught in a flood and is swept away, they have the risk of drowning in the water. Many times people die not only from the flood itself; but the effects after the flood such as starvation, hazardous objects floating in the water, and much more. Because of the water, it is harder for medical services to help civilians. The people rely on the aid workers to bring refugees food; consequently, if the aid workers have a hard time getting through the water, many families starve to death.

Floods are part of everyday lives. They are caused by too much rain, hurricanes, breaking of dams, etc. Many times the effects are devastating. The environment and economy are destroyed, land is washed away, houses are destroyed, and peoples lives are changed forever.

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Coastal Flooding Essay

Coastal Flooding: 1953 Storm Surge Case Study The Storm was a major flood caused by a heavy storm that occurred on the night of Saturday, 31 January 1953 and morning of Sunday, 1 February 1953. The floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland. A combination of a high spring tide and a sever European Windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide, which therefore overwhelmingly surpassed sea defences and causes rapid and wide flooding. A maximum gust was identified as 126mph at Costa Hill, Orkney. Furthermore, Global warming was another contribution due to the rising sea levels. In terms of the effects, the storm itself had resulted in multiple problems and disasters throughout those countries I mentioned before. Firstly, Flood defences were broken through as sea water swept up to two miles inland, inundating low lying areas and flooding thousands of homes. Furthermore, Coastal towns in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent were battered as sea water surged into the streets. To add to this, 307 people in English coastal and villages had lost their lives for example, more than 60 people died between King’s Lynn and Nearby Hunstanton. More than 177 people affected by the storm were lost at sea although on the other hand, more than 30,000 were moved to safety and about 13,000 people evacuated from Canvey Island, Essex. Many died in capsized fishing boats and more than 130 people were killed when the Irish Channel ferry Princess Victoria had sank. In terms of problems in other areas, the death toll did exceed 1,800 In the Netherlands mostly in the South – western province of Zeeland. Also a 1,000 mile stretch of the British coast, from Shetland to Kent was affected. Not only was the storm causing Social problems, but also economic problems for example the estimated damage repair was £50 million. In terms of the Economic effects, firstly estimated damage ran to £50 million at 1953 prices, approximately £1.2 billion at today's prices and to add to this, Infrastructure including power stations, gasworks, roads, railways, sewage services and water services were put Show More

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Learn about what causes flooding, different types of floods—and how to stay safe.

Rain is pouring hard and fast—more than eight inches in just an hour, turning river water brown with mud. Earthworms wiggle up to the ground as the soil becomes too wet for them. A flood might be coming.

Just about any place on Earth can experience flooding. When so much rain falls that the ground can’t absorb it or waterways can’t hold it, the overflowing water becomes a destructive force. In the United States, flooding causes more death and damage than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.

How floods develop

During a rainstorm, precipitation—or the water that comes from rain or snow—goes to different places. Some of it flows into streams, lakes, or city water systems. Other precipitation evaporates and returns to the atmosphere.

But much of the rainwater is absorbed by soil. It flows through the top layer of the ground, to plant roots below the surface. This helps provides plants with the water and nutrients they need to grow. The excess water moves deeper into the ground through layers of dirt and rocks where until it becomes part of natural underground wells called groundwater.

A habitat can naturally absorb a healthy amount of rainfall it needs to thrive. But too much rain can cause lake and river levels to rise and overflow their banks, or the soil to become too wet to absorb more water. And though you might think extremely dry habitats would welcome too much rain, it turns out that the parched dirt can’t absorb the rain fast enough to capture it all.

Severe coastal storms, quickly melting ice and snow, and collapsed barriers (like concrete dams) can also cause floods. Even damaged beaver dams can lead to an overflow of water that the surrounding earth can’t absorb.

Different types of floods

Floods can form slowly over several days or overwhelm an area with little warning. How quickly a flood forms often depends on the habitat.

Slow-forming river flooding happens in regions called floodplains. These are large, flat areas of land along waterways with very shallow banks. When big storms hit, the water overflows the banks and spreads out across the plains.

This type of flooding isn’t always bad. It brings nutrients to the surrounding soil, making it fertile for growing crops. That’s why many people live in or near floodplains.

But too much water can destroy crops and damage homes. Rushing water can disrupt ecosystems by moving aquatic plants and animals to other habitats. And if flooding is so severe that it flows into local water treatment facilities, experts must monitor the incoming water to make sure the water is safe.

Another type of flooding is called a flash flood, when a flood happens within six hours of a heavy rainfall—as much as eight inches an hour. With no place to go, the moving water will tear through highways, valleys, and canyons, washing away vehicles, roads, bridges, and houses.

Quickly melting ice and snow can also cause flash flooding, especially when mountain snowmelt overflows the waterways below. On coastlines, hurricane rains cause water levels to rise, and the high winds push that water onto land. Called a storm surge, this also causes flash flooding.

Flooding in the future

Scientists believe that warming temperatures caused by climate change are increasing the risk of floods all over the world, especially in coastal and low-lying areas.

Warmer water changes the patterns of ocean currents, which changes global weather patterns. This means that some places will receive more rainfall than the ground can absorb. Other places will get less rain so the land will be drier—and unable to handle rainfall when it does occur.

Scientists think that climate change could also cause stronger hurricanes, with more rain and higher winds causing bigger storm surges. A warmer climate could also mean more snowmelt overwhelming the soil; melting polar ice could cause sea levels to rise and increase flooding. ( Find out how you can help slow climate change .)

How to survive a flood

Experts might issue a flash flood watch if weather conditions are right. It doesn’t mean flooding will happen but that meteorologists want people to be prepared. When experts are sure a flash flood is on the way, they issue a warning so people can evacuate immediately. Here’s how to keep you and your family safe.

Before a flood • Know your neighborhood. Research how close you are to streams, drainage channels, canyons, and any other low-lying areas that might flood. • Keep emergency contact phone numbers in one place so you can get in touch with family members. • Put together an evacuation plan and share it with everyone in your household. Know what paths and routes you can use to quickly get to a high, dry place. • Conduct flood drills to practice evacuating quickly. • Maintain an emergency kit with a three-day supply of food and water. Experts recommend canned or dried foods that don't need to be cooked, and at least one gallon of water per day for each person and pet.

During a flood • Never wait for orders to leave; if you think a flood might be coming, evacuate immediately. • If flooding hasn’t started, move important items to upper floors of your house. • If flooding has already started where you are, move to the highest place you can find, like a roof of a house or car. Bring as much food, water, and sheltering blankets as possible. • Never walk through flood water, especially if it’s moving. Hazardous chemicals, sewage, and even wild animals are often in floodwater, and just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. • If you  must walk through water to escape, walk where the water is still. Never touch electrical equipment if you are standing in water, or even if you’re wet. • If water is quickly rising while you’re in your car, leave your vehicle and move to higher ground, like a hill or bridge.

After a flood • If you’ve evacuated your house, return only after you’re given the all-clear from officials. • If you stayed put, check your house for damage to electrical systems and appliances. Get rid of any food that might be contaminated from floodwater (or because it’s been unrefrigerated for awhile). • Check your home for wild animals, especially snakes. They can get washed into your home with the floodwater. • Ask an adult before you use water to brush your teeth, make food, or even wash your hands. Flooding can contaminate water and make you sick.

Learn more about floods at National Geographic .

Flood safety tips from the Nat Geo Kids book Extreme Weather by Thomas Kostigen

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved


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