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A flood refers to an overflow of water that submerges land that is normally dry and utilized for different economic activities. However, floods are defined differently depending on the place in which the overflow is occurring. The determination of whether an overflow of water should be described as a flood is also dependent on the amount of water in the overflow as well as the magnitude of the impact. The basic aspect nonetheless is the flow of water on a ground that is not usually covered by water. Flooding is a common condition caused by weather anomaly and it affects different parts of the world. Floods is an area of concern in hydrology and it I significant in diverse economic practices like agriculture, construction activities, as well as public health. The common occurrence of flooding is as a result of an overflow of water from water bodies, for instance, lakes, rivers, and oceans in which the water breaks the banks or overtops the normal levels causing some of the water to escape its usual boundaries. Flooding might as well occur as a result of an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground in an aerial flooding. The levels of waters in various water bodies fluctuate because of different factors like snowmelt and precipitation. The changes in the water levels are considered insignificant unless the changes result in a flooding and damage to properties.
Flooding is also common in rivers when the rate of the flow exceeds the capacity of the river channel particularly at meanders and bends along the waterway. Within the natural floodplains of rivers, flooding causes massive damage to properties. The impacts of floods can be easily avoided but the economic activities of people cannot allow the elimination or reduction of the impacts (Bowen & Juracek, 2011). People have naturally lived close to river banks for their various economic activities that are dependent on the availability of water and fertile soils. Such conditions are availed by the closeness to river banks or near any other water body. Water bodies are also depended upon by people because of the ease in traveling from one part to the next. The rate and speed at which floods develop depend on the cause of the increase in water volume. Some floods might happen within a few minutes without even visible signs of rains while others may take long before they happen. The effects might also be described as local because of the impacts on a localized area or very large affecting a wide section through which a river flows.
Floods are categorized as common natural disasters because of the impacts that they have within the affected regions. There are different types of floods classified depending on different aspects of the cause, the area in which they occur, and the effects on the affected areas. The geographical location is also a vital aspect in determining the occurrence of the flood because some areas are highly susceptible to flooding than others. Inland flooding is a common type of flooding that is described depending on the area in which the flooding occurs. Inland flooding is the technical name that describes ordinary flooding that takes in inland areas, very far from rivers and the cost or any other water body. Any type of flooding that occurs without being caused by an overflow of water from a water body is categorized as inland flooding. The common causes of inland flooding include aspects like persistent raining in which the rate at which it rains exceeds the rate at which the soils can absorb the water causing water levels to rise. When the ground becomes saturated and can no longer accommodate more water, the water runs down the mountains and steep hills. Inland flooding is also caused by rapid snowmelt. The layers of deep snow that accumulates during winter in some sections of the US melt causing a flow of water over the dry ground. Inland flooding also takes place as a result of the chunks of ice that builds up in lakes and rivers creating a dam. After some time, the ice breaks apart and releases a sudden surge of water downstream causing massive overflow on the land. The type of flooding is common in different parts of Canada.
Flash floods are also a common category of flooding experienced in various sections of the world. Flash floods are caused by heavy rain or the abrupt release of water within a short duration. The name of the flooding is determined by the speed in which it occurs, which is normally within a few minutes or hours after a heavy rain event. Common occurrences of flash floods are triggered by torrential rain falling in a short period of time for instance during intense thunderstorms and they can as well happen when no rains have fallen. Flash flooding can also occur as a result of the abrupt release of water from dam breaks or levee or by an ice jam or debris in a body of water (Chambers, 2001). Flash floods are described as more dangerous compared to the other types of flooding because of the speed at which they occur. In most cases, the people living in the affected areas do not gate the sufficient time to save their properties or move to the safer grounds. The floods normally cause massive damage to the properties as well as threatening and disrupting the normal economic operations of people within the region.
River flooding is the most common type of flooding in various parts of the world. The flood happens when the levels of water in lakes, rivers, and steams rise and overflow onto the nearest shore and neighboring land. The rise in the levels of water and overflow could be as a result of snowmelt, excessive rain from the tropical cyclones, and ice jams. The monitoring and aversion of the destructions caused by river flooding are easy because it is easy to monitor the water levels and predict the dangerous levels. The impacts are normally minimal in countries like the United States of America because of the proper strategies used to mark the water levels and predict the dangerous levels for proper action. As the waters in rivers rise to the dangerous levels, people are warned to move to the safe grounds and save their properties that can easily be affected by the imminent floods. River flooding is a major disaster in some parts of the world especially in the regions where there are no proper flood monitoring strategies. In such areas, overflow of water from the rivers cause massive destruction to properties as well as loss of lives. The most affected people are those living close to rivers. In areas where there are no vegetation covers along the rivers, huge chunks of land are cut away by the river water. In some parts of the world for instance in Bangladesh, thousands of lives are lost every year as a result of river flooding (Chambers, 2001). Properties particularly agricultural produce are also lost when rivers overflow to the normal grounds.
Coastal flooding is limited along the coastal lines when the seawater is pushed to the land. There are various factors that cause coastal flooding but the most common cause is tsunamis. Despite the fact that tsunamis are not common, their occurrence causes an enormous destruction of properties and loss of lives (Connolly, 2005). They are caused by large waves within the oceans that are generated by earthquakes occurring under water. Tides and storm cyclones are also common causes of coastal flooding. Coastal flooding is expected to increase with global warming because it leads to the rise in the sea waters. Urban flooding is caused by rain in urban areas with no proper drainage systems. Excess rainwater that cannot be accommodated by the available water channels within the area is redirected to other directions that might lead to the destruction of properties and disturbance to the normal operations of people within the city.
Flooding interferes with the normal lives of people due to the unusual presence of water in the places they live. The normal economic activities that people are used to doing in normal conditions cannot be done when floods occur. The common aspect that differentiates floods with the normal conditions is the destruction of properties and disruption to the normal operations. The overflow of water on land cannot allow agricultural practices or any other economic activities that are dependent on land to proceed (Durham & Maslin, 2000).
The main point of concern for flooding is the impacts it has on the affected regions and populations. The consequences of flooding range from slight destruction of properties to massive destructions as well as loss of lives. The strategies used in the prevention of floods are based on the effects that flooding causes. The primary impacts of flood include damaging important facilities and structures like buildings, sewerage systems, bridges, and canals. Nonetheless, loss of lives as a result of flooding is the major primary impact of flooding that has triggered actions from the relevant bodies, for instance, the disaster preparedness and response departments to avert death during flooding events. Power transmission systems are also damaged by flooding and the magnitude of the effects is dependent on the amount of water that overflows on the ground. The disruption of power transmission because of the flooding is an indirect effect on the economy. Electricity is a fundamental driver of the economy and any disruption on the power transmission and generation has a significant effect on the economy.
Flooding has direct impacts on the health of the general public and the health provision system within the affected region. Flooding has serious consequences on the quality of the drinking water supplies. In most cases, flooding contaminates drinking water supplies through depositing sewage contents in clean water. Disease outbreaks are common during flooding events because it compromises the quality of drinking water and puts people at risk of suffering from waterborne diseases. The contamination of water originates from all contaminants on the ground that gets in contact with clean water (Doeden, 2010). The common waterborne diseases that emerge during flooding include diarrheal illnesses, giardia, typhoid, cholera, and cryptosporidium. Majority of the illnesses are dependent on the location of the flooding. In areas where a certain waterborne disease is endemic, the cases of the condition increase during the flooding period. Floods cause loss of lives directly and indirectly. The direct deaths occur when overflowing waters submerge people's homes, causing people to drown. Deaths might as well happen as a result of the injuries caused by collapsing of structures like the houses they live in. The waterborne illnesses account for the indirect loss of lives after flooding events. Many deaths, particularly by deadly diseases, occur during flooding seasons.
Floods hamper economic development through the destruction of transportation facilities like roads and railways. The damage to the transport infrastructure impedes economic activities because it becomes impossible for transportation of goods and people. The affected populations normally face challenges in receiving crucial supplies like foods and medicines after flooding events because roads are normally impassable after a flooding event. The federal and state governments spend huge amounts of money that should have directed ton other developmental projects to repair the damages caused by flooding on the transport infrastructure.
Farming activities are highly affected during flooding seasons because the conditions become unfavorable for working in the farms. The farming lands are normally inundated by flooding waters making the farming fields unworkable, hindering planting and harvesting of crops. Most plants are not adapted to resisting water for long and harvesting becomes a nightmare since the crops cannot withstand the unfavorable conditions. Flooding accounts for the lack of sufficient food supplies in a majority of the parts in highly susceptible areas. Consistent food shortages in different countries are caused by flooding. Governments face serious challenges in ensuring food security in countries that are affected by floods because of the persistent flooding. Economic hardships in most nations are caused by floods because a lot of funds are channeled to the programs aimed at mitigating the impacts of floods. High prices of food commodities are directly associated with flooding. The destruction of food crop plantations and farms causes scarcity of foods when the demand is high (Proverbs, 2004).
Flooding has severe psychological effects on the affected populations particularly when deaths are caused. In most cases, floods displace people from their homes and they are compelled to stay in makeshift structures or in other people's homes. Displacement has serious psychological impacts because affected populations are forced to change their normal living conditions to new places where they are not used to. Affected people take a long time before they adapt to the new environments and going back to their normal living conditions might take long.
The long-term effects of flooding are associated with the changing the normal living style of people. In countries that are prone to floods like Bangladesh, poverty accounts for the high levels of poverty among the people. Poverty is a long-term impact of flooding. Many people living in areas that experience frequent droughts live below the poverty line. Continuous floods often affect the economic activities as well as the channels through which can use to generate income. Farming is a common economic activity for people that are not in active employment positions. Flood hinders other economic activities which affect financial generations of people. In Bangladesh, a majority of the country's population depend on selling their farm products to earn a living. As a result of the consistent flooding, their main sources of income are completely disrupted and they have less financial incomes. Most of the people in flood-prone areas loose hope in engaging in their daily economic activities particularly crop farming because they are sure that floods will destroy everything. Such people are left to depend on minimum supplies of food particularly from the government support programs. The lack of surety in the economic activities is the main reason why floods are considered a serious cause of poverty amongst people.
Depending on the economic activities of the affected place, floods have tremendous impacts on main economic practices. People changing their economic activities to new activities that fit the weather conditions (Poiani, 2006). People in regions that experience time to time flooding has adopted the fishing activities as their main sources of income. Despite the fact that small-scale fishing in rivers has little returns compared to other practices like farming, affected populations have limited options and they are forced to switch to fishing because the overflow of water favors their activities. Other long-term impacts are associated with the public health conditions of the affected population. Malnutrition among people is a common long-term effect because flooding affects the sure supplies of basic nutrients (Kahan, 2006). The lack of agricultural activities in affected areas detaches people particularly children from imported foods. Such areas are also known to have a frequent outbreak of waterborne illnesses because they lack the supply of clean water.
Bowen, M. W., & Juracek, K. E. (2011). Assessment of the Geomorphic Effects of Large Floods Using Streamgage Data: the 1951 Floods in Eastern Kansas, USA. Physical Geography, 32(1), 52-77. doi:10.2747/0272-3618.104.22.168
Chambers, C. (2001). Floods. Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library.
Connolly, S. (2005). Floods. North Mankato, MN: Smart Apple Media.
Doeden, M. (2010). Floods. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
Durham, E., & Maslin, M. (2000). Floods. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn.
Kahan, J. P. (2006). From flood control to integrated water resource management: Lessons for the Gulf Coast from flooding in other places in the last sixty years. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.
Poiani, A. (2006). Effects of Floods on Distribution and Reproduction of Aquatic Birds. Advances in Ecological Research, 63-83. doi:10.1016/s0065-2504(06)39004-6
Proverbs, D. (2004). Flooding. Bradford, GBR: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
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