1 Flood Flood has always been a recurrent phenomenon in India. With more than 12 per cent of the total land area in India prone to flood it is necessary to understand the concept of flood. This section on floods will help us understand the term better. The terms associated with floods The types of floods The causes of floods The impact of floods Preparedness measures and The mitigation measures Glossary of Terms Floods: High-water stages in which water over flows its natural or artificial banks onto normally dry land, such as a river inundating its floodplain. Flood hazard: The risk of damage to lives; livelihoods or property because of the floodwater is called a flood hazard. Banks of a river: Elevated land on the side of a river. This is also known as Valley side
2 Channel: The riverbed of a river is called the channel or the course which the river takes when it flows is called the channel of the river. Channel capacity: The amount of water a river can hold before it floods its surrounding area. The flow of water is measured in cusecs or cubic feet per seconds. Flood Plains: Flood plains are lands bordering rivers and streams that normally are dry but are covered with water during floods. Floods can damage buildings or other structures placed in flood plains. They also can change the pattern of water flow and increase flooding and flood damage on adjacent property by blocking the flow of water and increasing the width, depth, or velocity of floodwaters. What are Floods? Floods are common and mostly natural disasters. When rivers overflow their banks they cause damage to lives, property, infrastructure and crops. Floods are common and mostly natural disasters. Floods usually are local, short-lived events that can happen suddenly and sometimes with little or no warning. They usually are caused by intense storms that produce more runoff than an area can store or a stream can carry within its normal channel. Rivers can also flood its surroundings when the dams fail, when ice or a landslide temporarily block the course of the river channel, or when snow melts rapidly. In a broader sense, normally dry lands can be flooded by high lake levels, by high tides, or by waves driven ashore by strong winds. Small streams are subject to floods (very rapid increases in runoff), which may last from a few minutes to a few hours. On larger streams, floods usually last from several hours to a few days. A series of storms might keep a river above flood stage (the water level at which a river overflows its banks) for several weeks. Types of Floods RIVER FLOOD COASTAL FLOOD Flooding along rivers is a natural and inevitable part of life. Some floods occur seasonally and some when winter or spring rains; coupled with melting snows, fill river basins with too much water, too quickly. Torrential rains from decaying hurricanes or tropical systems can also produce river flooding. Winds generated from tropical storms and hurricanes or intense offshore low-pressure systems can drive ocean water inland and cause significant flooding. Escape routes can be cut off and blocked by high water. Coastal flooding can also be produced by sea waves called tsunamis (tsoo-n -m z), sometimes referred to as tidal waves. These waves are produced by earthquakes or volcanic activity.
3 URBAN FLOOD FLASH FLOOD ICE JAM As land is converted from fields or woodlands to roads and parking lots, it loses its ability to absorb rainfall. Urbanization decreases the ability to absorb water 2 to 6 times over what would occur on natural terrain. During periods of urban flooding, streets can become swift moving rivers, while basements can become death traps as they fill with water. A flood that rises and falls quite rapidly with little or no advance warning, usually as the result of intense rainfall over a relatively small area. Flash floods can be caused by situations such as a sudden excessive rainfall, the failure of a dam, or the thaw of an ice jam. Flash Floods in Arroyos - An arroyo is a water-carved gully or a normally dry creek found in arid or desert regions. When storms appear in these areas, the rainwater cuts into the dry, dusty soil creating a small, fast-moving river. Flash flooding in an arroyo can occur in less than a minute, with enough power to wash away sections of pavement. Floating ice can accumulate at a natural or man-made obstruction and stop the flow of water thereby causing floods. Flooding too can occur when there the snow melts at a very faster rate. Beneficial Effects of Flooding Periodic flooding then causes water to overflow the banks and deposit nutrient-rich sediments onto the floodplain called the silt, where they nourish the trees of the floodplain swamp. The timing of floods also influences the use of the swamps by fish and wildlife, especially for spawning and waterfowl migrations. Water influences peat lands in still other ways. The moist condition created by precipitation or groundwater that flows into a peat land promotes plant growth and also slows the decay of dead plant matter. If groundwater rich in minerals flows into a peat land, the chemistry of that water can affect which plant species growing there. If precipitation supplies much of the water to a peat land, sphagnum mosses often grow. Sphagnum makes the water more acidic, limiting the species of plants and animals able to grow there. Typical Effects Physical damage structures damaged or collapsed by washing waters, landslide triggered on account of water getting saturated. Boats and fishing equipments may be lost or damaged in coastal areas. Road damage by floods Bridge collapse in the Assam floods Outbreak of encephalitis (transmitted by mosquitoes) comes with the floods
4 Casualties and pubic health people and livestock deaths caused by drowning, very few serious injuries. Outbreak of epidemics, diarrhea, viral infections, malaria. Water supplies contamination of water (wells, ground water, piped water supply). Clean water may be unavailable. Crops and food supplies sudden food shortage can be caused due to loss of entire harvest, spoiling of grains when saturated in water along with loss of animal fodder. The crop storage facilities and godowns may get submerged resulting in immediate food shortage. Floods may also affect the soil characteristics. The land may be rendered infertile due to erosion of top layer or may turn saline if sea water floods the area. Hazard Zones The Vulnerability Atlas of India shows pictorially the areas liable to floods. The flood hazard map is based on the Flood Atlas of India brought out by the Central Water Commission, state wise marking both the areas which are liable to flooding as well as those which have been protected. The maps given in the Vulnerability Atlas of India show the district boundaries and the location of the district towns along with the rivers district wise identification of vulnerable areas will be easy. Besides the problems of flooding in the river plains, heavy intensity rains could cause local; flooding in certain areas where the drainage is either naturally poor or the drains are choked due to various reasons such as careless dumping of refuse in the drains and lack of maintenance. Much of the flooding in the towns and cities occur due to such cases. Under cyclonic winds in coastal areas, the sea coast of India can be flooded due to heavy down pour on the one hand and storm surge on the other. The depth of inland water inundation could be worked out by taking the storm surge heights. Death Toll in major floods of India Year Number of Location people killed ,892 (1) Rajasthan, Gujarat - (2) North-East, West Bengal, Assam ,800 North, Northeast ,001 Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Gujarat states ,000 North ,811 Assam, Arunachal, Bihar, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal states ,600 Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana ,591 Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat Map showing Flood Zones in India ,479 Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra ,442 Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madyha Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal states ,290 Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal ,023 North India
5 According to the HPC Report of Government of India, around 75% of the total rainfall is concentrated over 4 months of monsoon (June September). Around 12% of the country s land area is prone to floods which means around 40 million hectares are prone to flood and annually on an average 8 million is affected by floods. The most flood prone are the Brahmaputra, Ganga and the Meghana basins. The states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Orissa. But of late floods have also become a serious affair in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. India accounts for one- fifth of the global death count due to floods. Over 30 million people are displaced annually. Even though a particular area is prone to floods it is believed that that particular area might also be affected by drought. Weather Patterns Can Determine When Floods Occur Floods can occur at any time, but weather patterns have a strong influence on when and where floods are likely to occur. The Irrigation Department, Indian Meteorological Department of Government of India is responsible for detecting, tracking and receiving warning and to disseminate information. Flood warning is disseminated by the following means: - High Priority Telegram - Doordarshan and the local cable channels - All India Radio - Bulletins in the Press - Satellite Based disaster Warning Systems - Fax - Telephone - Government Channel The size, or magnitude, of a flood is described by a term called recurrence interval. By studying a long period of flow records for a stream, it is possible to estimate the size of a flood that would, for example, have a 5-year recurrence interval (called a 5-year flood). A 5-year flood is one that would occur, on the average, once every 5 years. Although a 100- year flood is expected to happen only once in a century, there is a 1 percent chance that a flood of that size could happen during any year. The magnitude of floods can be altered if changes are made in the drainage basin. Deforestation or changing land use pattern has increased the magnitude of flooding. Flood Preparedness Floods, which area natural hazard, need not become a disaster, if we are prepared and are aware of how to deal with them. This would reduce the losses of life and minimize human suffering. This guide lists simple things one can do to stay safe and protect one from floods.
6 Before flooding occurs 1. Know the route to the nearest safe shelters that you area aware off. 2. Keep the First Aid Kit ready with extra medication for snake bite and diarrhea 3. Strong ropes for tying things 4. A radio, torch and spare batteries 5. Stocks of fresh water, dry food, candles, matchbox, kerosene etc 6. Umbrellas and bamboo sticks (to protect from snakes) 7. Higher ground where people and animals can take shelter When you hear a flood warning 1. Tune in to your radio or watch for warning and advice 2. Keep vigil of flood warning given by local authorities 3. Keep dry food and drinking water and warm clothes ready 4. Check your emergency kit If you need to evacuate 1. Pack clothing, essential medication, valuables, personal papers etc in water proof bags to be taken to the safe shelter. 2. Raise furniture, appliances on beds and tables 3. Put sandbags in the toilet bowl and cover all drain holes to prevent sewage back flow. 4. Do not get into water of unknown depth and current 5. Lock your house and take the recommended or known evacuation routes for your area of safe shelter. During Floods 1. Drink boiled water or use halogen tablet to purify water before drinking. 2. Keep your food covered 3. Do not let children remain on empty stomach 4. Use bleaching powder and lime to disinfect the surroundings 5. Avoid entering flood waters. If you need to enter then were proper foot wear. 6. Stay away from water over knee level. After a Flood 1. Stay tuned to local radio. 2. Do not allow children to play in, or near, flood waters. 3. Stay away from drains, culverts. 4. Do not use electrical appliances. 5. Do not eat food, which has been in floodwaters. 6. Boil tap water. 7. Use halogen tablets before drinking.
7 8. Be careful of snake bites, snakebites are common during floods. Flood Mitigation Strategies: There are two different ways to mitigate floods: - o Structural o Non- Structural Structural measures are in the nature of physical measures and help in modifying the floods, while non- structural measures are in the nature of planning and help in modifying the losses due to floods. In the structural measures we keep the water away from people and in the non-structural measures to try to keep the people away from water. All of these works can be individually divided into long term and short-term measures. Structural Measures: a) Water Shed Management: Timely cleaning, de-silting and deepening of natural water reservoir and drainage channels (both urban and rural) must be taken up. b) Reservoirs: The entire natural water storage place should be cleaned on a regular basis. Encroachments on tanks and ponds or natural drainage channel share to be removed well before the onset of monsoon. c) Natural water retention Basins: Construction and protection of all the flood protection embankments, ring bunds and other bunds. Dams and levees can also be constructed which can be used as temporarily storing space which reduced the chances of lower plains getting flooded. d) Buildings on elevated area: The buildings in flood prone areas should be constructed on an elevated area and if necessary on stilts and platform. Pedestal Buildings on stilts or on a platform Construction in a flood prone area Non Structural Measures: a) Flood Plain Zoning: Flood plain zoning, which places restrictions on the use of land on flood plains, can reduce the cost of flood damage. Local governments may pass laws that prevent uncontrolled building or development on flood plains to limit flood risks and to protect nearby property. Landowners in areas that adopt local ordinances or laws to limit development on flood plains can purchase flood insurance to help cover the cost of damage from floods.
8 b) Flood Forecasting and warning: These are issued for different areas mostly by the Central water Commission/ Meteorological department and by the State Irrigation/ Flood Department. Flood Quiz 1. What's the difference between a flood and a flash flood? a) A flash flood involves less water b) A flash flood happens quickly c) A flash flood involves mud 2. What is the most important thing to do in case of a flash flood? a) Get to higher ground b) Gather supplies for an evacuation c) Dive into a ditch 3. Is it safe to drive through moving flood waters? a) Yes b) Never c) Only when you can see the ground underneath 4. Coastal floods are sometimes caused by what? a) The sun's rotation b) Paved streets c) Hurricanes 5. What's the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning? a) A watch means that floods have been reported b) A watch means that floods are possible c) A watch is a report of flood-related problems
9 6. Flash floods are often caused by what? a) Slow-moving thunderstorms b) Fault lines c) A plugged drain Answer Key: 1. b 4. c 2. a 5. b 3. b 6. a WEB RESOURCES: website of the Central Water Commission of India, (CWC) of India. website of the Ministry of Water Resources, GoI. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) provides all India weather report, end of monsoon season report, weather charts, satellite images, rainfall maps, earthquake reports and severe weather warnings. Natural Disaster Management India. Provides current news on Flood, Drought and Cyclones, Weather Links from NIC and weather conditions/temperatures on Indian Ocean ( India National Institute of Hydrology perform tasks such as Ground water zone mapping, Flood plain mapping, land use, salinity, sedimentation, Soil erosion, water-logging etc.
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