• FLOODS •
“Water, water, everywhere,
But not a drop to drink.”
This is the paradox that a flood leads us to! When we think of floods, a dismal picture arouses in our mind … endless stretches of water, gushing past, carrying along human bodies- dead and alive, plants, animals, the movable, the immovable and more… The reality is only worse.
A flood occurs when an area of land, usually low-lying, is covered with water. Flooding happens during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, when ocean waves come onshore, when snow melts too fast or when dams or levees break. Flooding may be only a few inches of water or it may cover a house to the rooftop.
Flooding is the most common of all natural hazards.
The question then arises, what causes floods?
The worst floods usually occur when a river overflows its banks. An example of this is the January 1999 Queensland floods, which swamped southeastern Queensland. Also, when soil and vegetation cannot absorb all the water; it runs off the land in quantities that cannot be carried in stream channels or kept in natural ponds or man-made reservoirs.
We can, thus point out the different types of floods:
• Periodic floods occur naturally on many rivers, forming an area known as the flood plain. These river floods usually result from heavy rain, sometimes combined with melting snow, which causes the rivers to overflow their banks.
• A flood that rises and falls rapidly with little or no advance warning is called a flash flood. Flash floods usually result from intense rainfall over a relatively small area. Coastal areas are occasionally flooded by high tides caused by severe winds on ocean surfaces, or by tidal waves caused by undersea earthquakes.
Floods acutely affect all aspects of life:
Apart from causing grave damages to property and material wealth, floods affect our health and well-being, both directly and indirectly. Direct consequences of floods include drowning, the outbreak of water-borne diseases, wound infections, respiratory diseases and food shortage. The indirect consequences include serious water-borne infections, chemical pollution and psychological disturbances. Further, it disrupts the natural balance of nature and uproots natural flora and fauna.
Indeed, floods severely impact the human psyche and leave wounds that do not heal easily.
“Time’s bitter flood will rise
Your perish and be lost
For all eyes but these eyes”