A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land, which may be caused due to various reasons like overflow of water bodies, excessive rainfall, and breakage of dams and so on. Floods are natural phenomena common in many places around the world where either there is a water body like lakes or river nearby or the local weather can dump large amounts of rain. However, flood damages can sometimes occur in less probable places due to hurricanes, earthquakes and human negligence, which causes breakage of dams, pipes and tunnels. Global warming may also account for flooding of coastal regions, causing severe flood damages.
Environmentally floods can be important to local ecosystems as some river floods bring nutrients to soil. However, the environmental as well as economic damages caused by flood are far more when compared to its advantages. Flood damages can be broadly divided into two group namely primary and secondary damages. Primary flood damages are almost immediate and are classified as the direct effect of flood, which pose serious threat to human beings. Such flood damages involve the number of lives lost by either drowning in the floodwater or else by the collapse of bridges, houses and so on. This does not only encompass human life but involves loss of livestock and other domestic animals as well.
Secondary flood damages, on the other hand, include contamination of water or water damages, which causes various diseases like pneumonic plague, dysentery, military fever and innumerable more due to unhygienic conditions. It also involves shortage of food crops which results in the death of human life due to starvation and loss of non-tolerant tree species that die from suffocation. Apart from these, the economic damages, usually termed as long-term damages, should also be considered though there severity is far less than the above damages. Economic flood damages involve rebuilding of dams, bridges and other constructions, which is a burden on the government as well, the public life. Due to the loss of vegetation, the price of the food crops increase which causes economic hardship for everyone, especially the poor. Decline in tourism, though temporarily, also causes monetary loss resulting from flood damages. The damage in the infrastructure caused by floods stagnate development in urban areas.
Floods damages are one of the most common hazards in modern world. Its effects can be local, affecting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. On average, flooding causes a damage of more than two billion dollars each year. However, not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly over a period of days. However, flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Thus, the methods adopted to litigate such flood should be different from the ones taken to minimize the damages caused by slow floods. Moreover, coastal areas and river basins are more prone to flood. Hence, maximum priority should be given to these vulnerable regions. Though flood is an environmental phenomenon which cannot always be correctly predicted by human beings, what we can do is to “be prepared” for flood damages. Though we cannot avoid flood damages, we can surely minimize them.