Effects of Floods
Floods make an enormous impact on the environment and society. Floods destroy drainage systems in cities, causing raw sewage to spill out into bodies of water. Also, in cases of severe floods, buildings can be significantly damaged and even destroyed. This can lead to catastrophic effects on the environment as many toxic materials such as paint, pesticide and gasoline can be released into the rivers, lakes, bays, and ocean, killing maritime life. Floods may also cause millions of dollars worth of damage to a city, both evicting people from their homes and ruining businesses. Floods cause significant amounts of erosion to coasts, leading to more frequent flooding if not repaired.
However, floods do make a slight positive impact on the environment. Floods spread sediment containing beneficial nutrients to topsoil that might never arrive there otherwise.
- Saint Francis Dam - March 12, 1928
In 1928, the Saint Francis Dam in Los Angeles was filled with 12.5 billion gallons of water - enough water for one year for a population of 1.2 million people. However, on March 12, 1928, the dam broke, unleashing a 78 foot wall of water. It obliterated houses, ranches, automobiles, animals, and people. In roughly one hour, more than 500 people were killed and Santa Paula was overrun by water.
- Grand Forks Flood - April 18, 1997
On Friday, April 18, 1997, the Red River flooded over the dikes into Grand Forks, North Dakota. At the end of Saturday, the19th, the flood waters had spread over a large area of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Roughly 60,000 people were forced from their homes and downtown Grand Forks was left in flames. The damage was so extensive that it was weeks before people could return and rebuild their homes - and their lives.
A flooded building. (Click for a slightly larger version)