Top 10 Worst Floods of all Time

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Human being has been going through several tough situations since his existence. All these tough situations make man ‘tough’ and make him successful in life. ‘The stronger and mightier will survive’. This statement is true even in case of the man. Nature eliminates the ‘less strong’ as per the ‘Survival of the fittest’ policy. One such ‘tough situation’ that a man faces in life are natural calamities. Natural calamities are one such test that ‘God’ puts us through to decide we are ‘strong’ enough to survive. It also is a wake up call for the mankind that ‘The Judgement Day’ is near and its time we change our ‘habits’. One such deadly calamity is floods. Overflowing of a large amount of water beyond its normal confines (over dry land) is said to be a flood. Floods cause irreparable and immense losses. Technology advancements have lead to the discovery of Cyclone warning systems and have also improved disaster management techniques. But, even then floods occur because they happen with ‘God’s will’. Listed below are the Top 10 Worst Floods of all time:

10. North Sea Flood, Netherlands – 1212


This flood started off in June, 1212 in Netherlands (Now Holland) and it ended after 6 months (including relocation and cleanup activities). It started off with a slight drizzle and ended up creating havoc. It took about 60,000 lives along with it. It caused irreparable loss to life and property. It even affected the far off English Coast.  People were dislocated, buildings collapsed, roads got uprooted and property being carried away by the flood water. The citizens of Netherlands had lost faith on life after this debacle. Faith had to re-entrusted, the cities had to be rebuilt after this incident. This process took more than 2 years to happen. Even today, 1212 North Sea floods’ name brings in a tremor in the people’s mind. The technology available then wasn’t enough to give ‘Cyclone warnings’, to go about with fast rescue operations. If the technology were there, several thousands of lives could have been saved.

9. St. Lucia’s Flood, Netherlands – 1287


St. Lucia’s flood affected Netherlands and North Germany on December 12, 1287.  A ‘storm tide’ was responsible for this disaster which took away lives of around 70,000 innocent people. Some of the places like ‘Friesland’ got permanently flooded. There was hardly any water in the water bodies/lakes before the storm hit Netherlands. After the flood, the country was left with water everywhere. Some of the places got completely submerged eliminating human life completely (at those places). A storm surge occurs when an extreme low pressure coincides with a high tide. One such surge lead to this cataclysm. This storm is referred to as ‘Great storm’ and flood referred to as St Lucia Flood. A significant percentage of the country’s population came down after this incident. The property loss included destruction of cities of Winchelsea and Broomhill. A cliff at Hastings collapsed as a result of the flood.  The only positive of this flood was it bought in direct sea access to the village of Amsterdam because all the other villages in between were destroyed and this lead to the development of Amsterdam into a major and highly developed City.

8. Yangtze River Flood, China – 1911


The Yangtze River is the longest River in Asia and the third longest river in the world. It flows for 6000Km starting from a glacier in Tibet to Eastern China. It is the main source of irrigation, transport and sanitation for China. It also has The Three Gorges dam built across it which produces most of China’s power. It experiences seasonal flooding which are not severe but the flood in 1911 made this river shed this tag. This flood killed around 100,000 people. The cities surrounding this river are densely populated. This fact made the 1911 flood more dreadful and costly. This flood made 3, 75,000 homeless and lead of property less of several thousand millions. China’s annual GDP had a decline due to this catastrophe. This calamity resulted in the River extending its borders up to 80 miles (was initially 35 miles).

7. Hanoi and Red River Delta Flood, North Vietnam – 1971


The Red River Delta flood affected North Vietnam on 1st Aug, 1971 and killed more than 100,000 people. This event marked the century’s most serious weather events throughout the world. The fact that this calamity took place during a war – Vietnam War doubled its effect. Heavy rains hit the city of Hanoi continuously and intensely. The heavily populated Hanoi is not much far above sea level. These reasons magnified the effect of the flood killing millions of people, wiping out valuable crops, carrying away the essentials and homes of people who were already facing severe hardship due to the war. The fact that the river had little tributaries added to the devastation. After this flood, efforts were put in to stop a disaster of such huge magnitude in the future by building dams and creating artificial river tributaries. In spite of all those efforts, the Red River is still vulnerable to floods. This flood made people realize that a superpower named ‘God’ existed who was above all the countries and people. This realization made ‘people’ to call off the ‘ongoing’ war.

6. St. Felix’s Flood, Netherlands -1530


The 1530 St. Felix Flood happened on November 5, 1530. This day came to be known as Evil Saturday’ later. Most of the parts of Flanders and Zeeland (Part of Netherlands) were washed away.  Eighteen villages were washed away, and whole of ‘East Yerseke’ was swept away except for the city of Reimerswaal. People considered this as a ‘Godly’ thing, but the fact was that this city was built at a higher level when compared to its surroundings. This city was left as an Island and today, it has completely turned into a salt marsh area. More than 120,000 people were killed, the property loss was approximated to be more than 100 million U.S $. This flood was again due to a ‘surge’ and lead to the reduction of Netherlands total area (submerging). The absence of ‘Cyclone Precautionary Warning’ and efficient rescue operation resulted in this grave misfortune.

5. Yangtze River Flood, China – 1935


The Yangtze River Flood, 1935 was one of the major disasters that China has ever experienced. It is biggest incident to happen across the River Yangtze. It happened at a time when there was turmoil, chaos and ‘disaster’ spread throughout the world. It killed around 145,000 people, injured a few millions and left lots of people dislocated. The after-effects of this catastrophe were so dreadful that the people who survived this disaster were killed due to no/little food. Majority of the survivors were killed either due to this reason or due to the dreadful diseases which were spread throughout China. The diseases included Conjunctivitis, Dermatitis, Malaria, Tuberculosis (no cure).  The corpses also lead to several contagious dangerous diseases. A few of those committed suicides not able to find jobs, feeling the pressure of carrying a family forward.

4. Banqiao Dam Failure, China – 1975


The Banqiao dam is built across the river ‘Ru’ in Zhumadian city. It is a huge structure built in 1949 and produces around 20GW of power. It has a total capacity of 492 million cubic metres,and the dam crest level is 117 metres above sea level. Many Chinese cities depend on this dam for electricity. This dam is also a source of irrigation and transport to thousands of people. This dam is equal to 9 thermal power plants in terms of electricity generation. Officially this dam failure is considered a natural disaster, but a few facts and a few sources indicate it to be intentional. Intentional refers to poor construction, engineering and man-made effects. Stats indicate that this dam was constructed to survive a ‘once in 1000 years flood’ but this particular flood turned out to be ‘once in 2000 years’ flood. It occurred in August, 1975, as a result of the collision between SuperTyphoon Nina and Cold front. More than a year’s rain fell in 24 hours which forecasts failed to predict. Communications to the dam were lost due to wiring failure. The surrounding cities got isolated from the rest of china. The breakdown of this dam lead to the breakdown of several other small dams, overflowing of several small water bodies and as a result, even a huge country like China was half flooded. Around 160,000 people were killed and million people were struck under water for nine days. Army was deployed for rescue operations. Disaster management and rescue operations failed to reach all the people struck, hence the people starved to death. Epidemics killed the trapped survivors. The property loss approximated to about 513 million US $.

3. Yellow River Flood, China – 1938


The 1938 Yellow River flood was created by the ‘Chinese Government’ itself. The Second Sino-Japanese war was in progress and China was under tremendous pressure to halt the barging Japanese army. All their strategies and attacks failed. Under such a situation, China took a decision to lift up the Yellow river gates to stop the Japanese army from moving further forward. It was a part of their war strategy, and it was a safe means initially. But later, the unanticipated, unfortunate circumstances occurred, and the Yellow river flooded. Yellow river spread its borders and flood water submerged many cities, towns and villages. The Yellow river spread hundreds of miles towards the south. Thousands of Square Kilometres of Agricultural land were flooded, several villages were destroyed, less than a million people killed and several million villagers lost their homes and were forced to live as refugees. The official reports indicate that around 800,000 people drowned. The strategy of the Chinese Government lead to a controversy because a few facts say that the Japanese army was out of range and such an extreme step was not required. The flood had lots of after effects as well. The country land got abandoned, and crops were destroyed, ground became non cultivable, irrigation channels ruined, public structures and houses destroyed, people became destitute. Both the governments were to be blamed for this catastrophe. Later, people got anti towards the government and started a guerrilla group fighting for justice, demanding an explanation for such an unmanly act.

2. Yellow River Flood, China – 1887


The Yellow River Flood, 1887 happened on 28 September, 1887 and the disaster management, cleanup activities went on for the next eight months. It was a devastating flood and killed more than 900,000 people. Yellow river has been in the news for several floods because of its elevated nature and surrounding plains. Farmers/People used to build dikes to control the elevation of the water flowing from this river. But, elevated river beds along with continuous rain lead to this disaster. It was a massive flood and left with massive casualties. The low lying areas were all submerged, destroying agricultural lands and commercial centers. More than 50,000 square Km of land got submerged, leaving 2 million people homeless. The resulting epidemic diseases and lack of essentials (food, clothing, and shelter) claimed many lives and this doubled the corpse number. It is recorded as one of the world’s deadliest natural calamity ever.

1. China Floods, China – 1931


The 1931 China floods or the Central China Floods are considered the most devastating among all other disasters in the world. It included a series of bloods back to back resulting in a death count of around 4 million people. Several animals and cattle were killed as well. Extreme conditions in other seasons were a warning for this heavy storm and flood. This flood affected around 25 million people on a whole in some way or the other. The Yangtze and Huai rivers, both major rivers of China flooded at once leading to this catastrophe. It started in August, 1931 when the Yangtze River’s height raised after continuous three day rain. On 19th August, 1931, Huai River’s water height exceeded the maximum limit and drowned around 200,000 who were in their sleep. Millions died due to water borne diseases (Cholera, Typhoid), cases of infanticide and cannibalism were reported. Men did everything they could to earn money. This also included selling their wives and children. This was the most deadly disaster and sent a warning to all the countries round the globe to set up an Efficient Disaster Management system and be prepared for the worst.


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