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Flood Control and Disaster Management

Flood control refers to all methods used to reduce or prevent the detrimental effects
of flood waters (Wikipedia). Some of the common techniques used for flood control are installation
of rock berms, rock rip-raps, sandbags, maintaining normal slopes with vegetation or application of
soil cements on steeper slopes and construction or expansion of drainage channels. Other methods
include levees, dikes, dams, retention or detention basins. After the Katrina Disaster that happened
in 2005, some areas prefer not to have levees as flood controls. Communities preferred
improvement of drainage structures with detention basins near the sites.

Causes of Floods
Floods are caused by many factors: heavy precipitation, severe winds over water, unusual high
tides, tsunamis, or failure of dams, levels, retention ponds, or other structures that contained the

Periodic floods occur on many rivers, forming a surrounding region known as the flood plain.

During times of rain or snow, some of the water is retained in ponds or soil, some is absorbed by
grass and vegetation, some evaporates, and the rest travels over the land as surface runoff. Floods
occur when ponds, lakes, riverbeds, soil, and vegetation cannot absorb all the water. Water then
runs off the land in quantities that cannot be carried within stream channels or retained in natural
ponds, lakes, and man-made reservoirs. About 30 percent of all precipitation is in the form of runoff
small and that amount might be increased by water from melting snow. River flooding is often
caused by heavy rain, sometimes increased by melting snow. Aflood that rises rapidly, with little or
no advance warning, is called a flash flood. Flash floods usually result from intense rainfall over a
relatively small area, or if the area was already saturated from previous precipitation.

Severe winds over water
Even when rainfall is relatively light, the shorelines of lakes and bays can be flooded by severe
winds—such as during hurricanes—that blow water into the shore areas.

Unusual high tides
Coastal areas are sometimes flooded by unusually high tides, such as spring tides, especially when
compounded by high winds and storm surges.

Effects of Floods
Flooding has many impacts. It damages property and endangers the lives of humans and other
species. Rapid water runoff causes soil erosion and concomitant sediment deposition elsewhere
(such as further downstream or down a coast). The spawning grounds for fish and other wildlife
habitats can become polluted or completely destroyed. Some prolonged high floods can delay traffic

a weir was built near Raymore Drive to prevent a recurrence of the flooding caused by Hurricane Hazel in 1954. and the construction of floodways (man-made channels to divert floodwater). is most often used to create millponds. dams. A weir. A dike lowers the risk of having floods compared to other methods. It also has a main traffic function.1 These methods include planting vegetation to retain extra water. dikes. to protect Saint Petersburg from storm surges. such as interfering with farming. and weirs are used to prevent rivers from bursting their banks. however it is better to combine dikes with other flood control methods to reduce the risk of a collapsed dike. in the southwestern part of the Netherlands. in Russia. bunds. reservoirs. where they are referred to as Delta Works with the Oosterschelde dam as its crowning achievement. sewer lines. and other structures within floodways. Waterway navigation and hydroelectric power are often impaired. Defences such as levees. Methods of Control In many countries. emergency measures such as sandbags or portable inflatable tubes are used. Control of Floods Some methods of flood control have been practiced since ancient times. When these defences fail. Floods can interfere with drainage and economic use of lands. Europe London is protected from flooding by a huge mechanical barrier across the River Thames. The defenses of both London and Venice will be rendered inadequate if sea levels continue to rise. It can help prevent damage. bank lines. Coastal flooding has been addressed in Europe and the Americas with coastal defences. such as sea areas which lack elevated roadways. rivers prone to floods are often carefully managed. A dike is another method of flood protection. also known as a lowhead dam. which is raised when the water level reaches a certain point. Financial losses due to floods are typically millions of dollars each year. terracing hillsides to slow flow downhill. Flood blocking the road in Jerusalem Currently the Saint Petersburg Flood Prevention Facility Complex is to be finished by 2008. reservoirs1 or retention ponds to hold extra water during times of flooding. beach nourishment. These works were built in response to the North Sea flood of 1953. Venice has a similar arrangement. as it completes . and barrier islands. which destroyed nearly two fifths of the street. but on the Humber River in Toronto. The largest and most elaborate flood defenses can be found in the Netherlands. although it is already unable to cope with very high tides. The Dutch had already built one of the world's largest dams in the north of the country: the Afsluitdijk (closing occurred in 1932).1 Other techniques include the construction of levees. Structural damage can occur in bridge abutments.

exposed electrical lines.a ring road around Saint Petersburg.5 Because flooded disaster sites are unstable. The system kept Winnipeg safe during the 1997 flood which devastated many communities upriver from Winnipeg. blood or other body fluids. the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. dikes. managers provide workers with hard hats. bought 25. carbon monoxide exposure. biological hazards in theflood water. In the U. In an act of successful flood prevention.6 Future . In planning for and reacting to flood disasters. including Grand Forks. Potential dangers include electrical hazards. To protect the city from future floods. Agathe. the Manitoba government undertook the construction of a massive system of diversions.[citation needed] Deforestation amplifies the incidents and severity of floods. ranging from a few inches to twenty feet in coastal communities.4 Flood clean-up safety Clean-up activities following floods often pose hazards to workers and volunteers involved in the effort. North Dakota and Ste.3 Many have proposed that loss of vegetation (deforestation) will lead to a risk increase. flood duration should decrease. These wetlands act as a sponge in storms and in 1995. Manitoba. This can lead to devastating flooding. and floodways (including the Red River Floodway and the Portage Diversion). life jackets. Americas Another elaborate system of floodway defenses can be found in the Canadian province of Manitoba. is protected by hundreds of miles of levees and flood gates. and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles.4 kilometres and stand eight metres above water level. and exposure to hazardous materials. drowning. resulting in the inundation of approximately 50% of the Metropolitan area.000 properties which they converted into wetlands. as occurred in Winnipeg during the spring of 1950.S. flood diversion areas are rural areas that are deliberately flooded in emergencies in order to protect cities. With natural forest cover. motor vehicle-related dangers. passing through the city of Winnipeg (where it meets the Assiniboine River) and into Lake Winnipeg. This system failed catastrophically. during Hurricane Katrina in the city proper and in eastern sections of the Metro Area. As is the case with all north-flowing rivers in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. musculoskeletal hazards. in partnership with the state. with numerous breaks. Several communities accepted and the government. the Federal Government of the United States offered to buy out flood-prone properties in the United States in order to prevent repeated disasters after the 1993 flood across the Midwest. and animal and human remains. The Red River flows northward from the United States. fire. heat or cold stress. heavy work gloves.. when the floods returned. 35% of which sits below sea level. Eleven dams extend for 25. goggles. clean-up workers might encounter sharp jagged debris. the government did not have to expend resources in those areas.2 Asia In China. snowmelt in southern sections may cause river levels to rise before northern sections have had a chance to completely thaw.

8 Many countries around the world are also at or below sea level and the worst part about that is the fact that a significant amount of the global population lives on or near to the coastal shores. Countries like the Netherlands with projects such as the Zuiderzee works and the Delta works could prove to be important models for other countries around the world to follow. among others. Even though many of these projects around the world are designed to fight floods like a 100 or even . Reference The International Water Association Publishing. and even something as simple as turning a playground during normal conditions into a small lake during heavy rainfall weather all show how the Netherlands is actively trying to combat the increasing dangers of rising sea levels. The viability for hydrologically based renewable sources of energy is higher in flood-prone regions. The Netherlands is the world leader in flood control and has been battling the sea for centuries and new ways to deal with water are constantly being developed and tested. such as making soil more fertile and providing nutrients in which it is deficient. Flood control will become an ever increasing issue in world politics and as more and more countries start feeling the effects of a global increase in the sea level then it will be time for action and the Netherlands will certainly be at the forefront of this action and furthermore used as an example for many countries when it is time for them to start dealing with issues of the sea. The result of Katrina was that the state of Louisiana sent politicians to the Netherlands to take a tour of the complex and highly developed flood control system in place in the Netherlands.10 In Rotterdam there is even a project to construct a floating housing development of 120 acres.11 These flood control systems do not always have to be solely to prevent floods but can also be used to combat droughts. which of course will be unaffected by rising sea levels. The Dutch are going to help China develop a drought warning system as well as new water management programs and contribute to flood defense research. However. Flood Control and Disaster Management https://www. China has recently gone to the Netherlands and requested their help in combating the large scale drought that is occurring around China.7 The tremendous amount of damage that Katrina did to New Orleans could have been mostly prevented if New Orleans had such an intricate flood control system as the Netherlands. an increase in the frequency and severity of some natural disasters. With many countries around Europe at or below the sea level.12 Benefits of Flooding There are many disruptive effects of flooding on human settlements and economic activities. and even increased durations of dry or rainy seasons. These sorts of humongous projects could be key in combating the increasing effects of global climate change such as: rising sea levels.000 year flood. the Nile River. storing water in reservoirs in large parking garages9. the Ganges and the Yellow River. flooding can bring benefits. these projects can still prove to be key instruments in the fight against global climate change. Periodic flooding was essential to the well-being of ancient communities along the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers. the Indus River.iwapublishing. the problems of floods and rising sea levels are ever increasing.Europe is at the forefront of the flood control technology. Projects such as the underground storage of water.


The water can either be stored or routed depending on the situation. This is why it is important to take preventive measures to stop the floods from happening in the first place. This allows more water to flow into a storage area if a flood is being predicted. Flooding can also indirectly occur through hazards like forest fires which remove precious vegetation that is useful for absorbing rainfall. . Also. Unlike other barriers. heavy rainfall. However. In order to decide the most efficient method. the water is either absorbed by the vegetation or retained in ponds. The surface runoff is usually one of the reasons that flash floods occur. soil or rivers. This is known as surface runoff. This causes millions of dollars in damage. Flood walls are made out of fabricated concrete materials. They are only closed in case of a flood. Similar to dams. flood walls are only temporary. Floods may be caused by a number of reasons such as: severe winds over water. When there is rainfall. Thus. flood gates can also lower the water levels from canal channels or the main river channel. Methods used to prevent floods Dams are one way that can be used for flood control. there is a certain limit that the water can be contained. lives may be taken as well. Flooding also transports other sediments to other places. tsunamis. Flash floods are floods where the water level rises very quickly. This pollutes the habitats that wildlife may reside in. Once rainfall exceeds the limit. Flood gates are systems that have adjustable gates to control the flow rate of a river. interfere with drainage and electrical systems. They are used in areas where there is limited space or if a construction of other barriers would interfere with the surrounding environment. damns are used to retain water. However. Dams are barriers that control the flow of water from a big water source such as a river or reservoir. Flood control is referred to as measures taken to prevent floods from happening. one must first understand what is causing the flood in the first place. Another type of method of flood control that can be used would be flood gates. The advantage with dams is that they are able to generate electricity through hydropower.Methods Used To Control Floods Floods can cause many problems and in serious cases. These flood walls may sometimes have flood gates which allow people and vehicles to pass through. Why prevent floods? Flooding has many negative impacts. failure of flood control measures and highly accelerated snowmelt. it would be less costly and safe to prevent the flood from happening in the first place. The next method that can be used for flood control would be a flood wall. from damaging property to even taking lives. the rest of the water travels across the land. proving little or no warning at all. flood walls serve the purpose of containing water of rivers or other water channels. If the floods are to make their way into urban areas then it may cause disruption to traffic.

Flood Control http://www. more measures to reduce deforestation should be taken. However. beach nourishment and barrier islands that can be built along to coast to prevent flooding from the ocean. However. flood diversion is used to divert the flood away from more populated cities. it is a costly method that takes a considerable amount of time to complete. However.In Asian countries. To tackle the problem. the area has been less effective in absorbing the water from the floods. it is always better to spend more money preventing floods from occurring than suffering the loss of your family and friends.thegreenbook. seawalls may corrode over time and collapse. However. To fix the damage land. Prevention is always better than cure. there are some methods such as sea walls. Beach nourishment is the addition of sand to the existing coast so that the tides will not reach the populated areas that quickly. which is the removal of natural vegetation for agricultural purposes. Sea walls are built along the coast to prevent high tides from flooding the area. To control coastal flooding. Reference The Green Book. it will take an extremely long time for the trees to grow. due to the growing problem of deforestation. reforestation should also be done.htm .

The operational MRMS QPE products have high resolution and rapid updating capabilities. MRMS serves as a powerful tool for the creation and evaluation of new techniques. satellite and numerical weather prediction models. Currently. Sometimes a flash flood threat is overshadowed by other severe weather events happening at the same time. so detection remains a challenge. and see when new cells begin to develop. radar. The main tools used to detect heavy rainfall associated with flash floods are satellite. continuously updated. surface and upper air observations. the NWS uses products developed for WSR-88D radars to aid in issuing flash flood statements.Severe Weather 101: Flood Detection Flash floods tend to be associated with many types of storms. or warnings. since the last one-hour break in precipitation. The data is used to estimate and forecast precipitation locations. they can be tested by easily plugged in and out of MRMS. all capable of producing excessive rainfall amounts over a particular area. This process facilitates a rapid science-to-operations transition of new MRMS applications and products for flood and flash flood predictions and water resources management. estimate total basin runoff and provide rainfall accumulations for the duration of the event. What we do: NSSL developed and implemented the real-time Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor system in 2004. strategies and applications to better QPE. The products are also used for verification of satellite rain products and for verification of quantitative rain forecasts from numerical weather prediction models. Another product estimates accumulated rainfall. This product is used to locate flood potential over urban or rural areas. One product estimates one-hour precipitation accumulation to assess rainfall intensities for flash flood warnings. Forecasters are able to watch existing storm cells intensify. and types. MRMS was transitioned into operations at the National Center for Environmental Prediction in 2014 and provided severe weather and precipitation products for improved decision-making capability within NOAA. lightning observing systems. urban flood statements and special weather statements. Radar can show the location of the intense rainfall cores. integrating data from multiple radar networks. Radar can also track the evolution of storm systems over time. amounts. and rain gauges. As new concepts are developed. watches. . RADAR WSR-88D radars graphically display detected precipitation on a map. lightning detection systems. and estimate the duration of rainfall. Animation of radar provides specific information on the movement of storm systems and helps in the assessment of the flash flood threat.

using MRMS and producing flash flood forecasts with products generated as frequently as every 2 minutes. People are often caught off guard because rain may not be heavy or falling at all where they are. FLASH introduces a new paradigm in flash flood prediction. and severity levels of flash flood warnings in the U. but have the advantage of high resolution and complete coverage over oceans. The FLASH system was transitioned to the National Weather Service in November 2016. When it breaks free the debris may release a “wall of water” downstream. specificity.. and sparsely populated areas where other sources of rainfall data are not available. Real-time rain gauge networks are most useful for flash flood detection when WSR-88D rainfall estimates can be compared with the actual rain gauge values to determine the accuracy of the radar estimate.noaa. You may hear a roaring sound upstream as a flood wave moves rapidly toward you. YOU! You may notice a stream starting to rise quickly and become muddy. mountainous regions. timing. the rain gauge report must be available in real time. and automated reporting networks are increasing. Reference: The National Severe Storms Laboratory. The FLASH team is comprised of researchers and students who use an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to achieve the goal. Since flash flood events often originate with heavy rainfall in sparsely instrumented areas that goes undetected. satellite-derived rainfall can be a critical tool for identifying hazards from smaller-scale rainfall and flood events. To have operational value. Severe Weather 101: Flood Detection www.RAIN GAUGES Rain gauges provide the most accurate method of measuring rainfall at a single geographic point. thus saving lives and protecting infrastructure. SATELLITE Estimates of rainfall from satellite data are less direct and less accurate than either gauges or radar.nssl. The primary goal of FLASH is to improve . Sometimes flood debris temporarily blocks the water flow upstream. The Flooded Locations And Simulated Hydrographs project (FLASH) was launched in early 2012 to improve the accuracy and timing of flash flood warnings.S.