When It Rains, It Pours
Since 1900 floods have killed more than 10,000 people in the US alone. Why are so many people killed? Floods easily fool people. It only takes a second to be swept away by flood water.
Since 1900, floods have killed more than 10,000 people in the US alone. Why are so many people killed? Floods can easily fool people. It's hard to judge the depth, speed and power of flood waters. It only takes a second to be swept into a drainage system or have your car float off a road or a bridge.
There are two different types of floods: Flash floods and floods. Flash floods are sudden and are usually caused by heavy rainfall that raises the level of water in a river, stream or other body of water. It doesn't take long (a few hours or less) before water overflows. The scary thing about flash floods is how fast the level of water rises.
A flood is a high water level or an overflow of water in a river, stream, drainage ditch or some other body of water. This overflow always takes too long for it to be called a flash flood. Floods can happen any time of the year. They are caused by several factors, like winter or spring rains along with melting snow. A heavy downpour from hurricanes or other tropical storms can also cause flooding.
China is one place you might want to own a good set of flippers. In the last 2000 years, the Yangtze River has flooded more than 1000 times. That's nothing compared to the Hwang Ho or Yellow River, as it is more commonly known. It has been the cause of China's most disastrous floods. It's three thousand miles long and begins above sea level in the mountains and ends at the Yellow Sea. The river has been dubbed China's Sorrow because over hundreds of years it has killed more people than any other river in the world. In 1887, flooding killed almost two million people and in 1931 it took almost four million lives. In 1938 close to one million were killed.
The Rules of Survival
There are a few basic rules to live by when you are caught in a flood. If you are in a flash flood and are on foot never try to walk through flood waters. Go directly to higher ground. If you are in a car do not try to take a shortcut through the water. If the car stalls, get out immediately and find higher ground. If you've been told to leave the area you live in, listen to the radio for instructions. 95 percent of the 140 people killed in the Big Thompson Canyon (Colorado) Flood in 1976 were trying to outrun the waters along their path instead of climbing rocks or going uphill to higher ground.
Did You Know?
- 80 percent of deaths in floods happen in vehicles, mostly when drivers make the mistake of trying to drive through flood waters.
- Just six inches of rapidly moving flood water can knock a person down.
- It only takes two feet of water to float a large vehicle or even a bus.
- One-third of flooded roads and bridges have so much damage by water that any vehicle trying to cross has only a 50 percent chance of making it to the other side
Have Your Say
Have you ever been caught in a flood? Know anyone who has?
I've been through T.S. Allison, and I advise people in flood-prone areas to get an aluminum boat if you need to get around. Get flood insurance. It may be expensive, but its worth it, especially here in Houston.
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