Rushing water is so powerful that it resembles a wall of concrete. Water itself is very heavy. A single bathtub full weighs about 1,500 pounds. Imagine this same amount of water crashing through the streets at 80 miles per hour, like it did in Florence, Italy, in 1966.
The water also carries along mud, earth, boulders, and other debris - anything not firmly attached to the ground. In 1955 in the U.S., a flood was able to carry away a wooden, four-story hotel.
When water rushes through a town or village in this way, it takes everything in its path, including cars, animals, and people. Humans can die from being battered or drowned. The water sometimes mixes with oil and sewage, destroying buildings and objects. Mud will also pour into everything, clogging roads, blocking drains, and burying possessions.
Even after the water drains away, a lot of destruction is left behind. Roads, bridges, and railroads are often broken or washed away. Telephone lines are cut so communication is difficult. In 1887 China, more than a million residents starved to death because a flood ruined crops, leaving no other source of food. Floodwater is also polluted, spreading disease quickly.