Flooding is a major yet common natural disaster in the United States. While the benefits of flooding, such as transforming the floodplain into fertile grounds, are important, the disadvantages of this disaster have enormous consequences for people, the economy and society.
Floods can adversely affect an area based on the location, duration, depth and speed of the rushing waters. An environment that is highly vulnerable will undergo significant destruction. Additionally, the value of an area is seriously destabilized during a flood.
The Midwest Spring Floods occurred as recently as 2017. During that time, large portions of midwestern states, including Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio, and Arkansas underwent record-high springtime flooding. The excessive rainfall in the area was the catalyst for the floods.
Hurricanes, too, have caused major flooding in the US. In September 2018, storms from Hurricane Florence led to severe freshwater flooding. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey sent massive storms to Florida and Texas, respectively. Hurricane Harvey alone cost Texas $125 billion in damages.
Loss of human life is the most tragic outcome of flooding. In fact, flash flooding is considered the number one threat to human life among natural disasters in the U.S. Flash floods occur when weather conditions, such as rainfall intensity and duration, are right.
Flash flooding happens within a few minutes or hours after intense rainfall. Flash floods can also occur when a dam or levee fails or an ice jam suddenly releases water. The power of flash floodwater is overwhelming, especially since rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more.
Trees can be torn out when flash floods strike. Enormous boulders are shifted by flash floods. Commercial buildings, residential homes and bridges are often completely wrecked by the force of flash floods. The floodwaters can even scour out new channels.
Without warning, flash floods have been known to trigger mudslides. When debris or ice accumulate, they create a blockage. Flooding upstream is caused by water being held back. A sudden release of that debris jam or ice jam can lead to severe flooding downstream.
It takes only six inches of rapidly moving floodwater to knock a grown person off his feet. Just two feet of floodwater is enough to float and shift a vehicle. The dangers of floodwater make it unsafe to walk, swim or drive through even a few inches of fast-moving water.
Floodwaters carry chemical runoff from farmland, bacteria from sewage and other pollutants. When humans and animals are directly exposed to floodwaters, waterborne diseases can be transmitted. Consequently, flooding can lead to disease and an overall decline in health of community members.
People are also affected emotionally when flooding hits. The trauma of seeing homes washed away, vehicles floating into treetops and the loss of life are long lasting. Children, especially, are deeply impacted. Plus, the disruption to society causes undue psychological stress to flood victims.
Homes are destroyed by flooding, but so are the possessions inside. Irreplaceable heirlooms and similarly valuable items can be lost in floodwaters. Fortunately, for homeowners who have purchased separate flood insurance, their policies help to cover the cost of damaged goods.
However, some people who live near flood-prone areas are unable to obtain flood insurance. Or, some homeowners cannot afford the cost of separate flood insurance premiums. Making matters worse, the costs to repair flooded structures can push insurance premiums upward.
Economically, societies suffer in the wake of flooding. Infrastructure damage, such as that to the electricity, water supply, transportation, healthcare and education, is significant. People are likely to lose their livelihood and income as flooding disrupts local industries as a whole.
Food prices spike, too, in the immediate aftermath of floods. When flooding occurs in key agricultural areas, crops are damaged and livestock is lost. The situation worsens as flooded roads and ruined infrastructure prevent the transportation necessary to sustain agricultural production.
When floodwaters hit roads, railways, shipping ports and other means of transportation, the economy comes to a near standstill. The distress is amplified in areas directly affected by the flood, but the devastation can be felt even in the regional and national economies.
Flooded areas see less tourism, which also affects the economy. Media channels are the first to display the graphic images of uprooted trees, destroyed homes and ruined businesses. The destruction is severe enough to lead travelers to cancel flights to the area, sightseeing tours, and other travel arrangements.
Since floodwaters are contaminated with harsh chemicals, microorganisms and harmful bacteria, fish and wildlife exposed to the polluted waters are often killed. Furthermore, floodwaters displace wildlife habitats, forcing the animals to abandon breeding grounds. Alterations to water temperatures and patterns upset natural ecosystems.
Experiencing a flood of any proportion is distressing on every level. When you are faced with a flood, whether from natural disasters (like flash floods) or manmade ones (like burst pipes), consult the most reputable name in water damage restoration—ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration.
Swift action is critical to preventing the spread of water damage. Moisture can rapidly seep into a building’s structural components, causing them to weaken or grow mold. Spores can appear as quickly as 48 hours after a flood. Our technicians arrive promptly to halt the course of destruction.
Restoration work begins immediately. Our skilled water damage cleanup crews assess the extent of damage upon arrival. We use powerful equipment to extract excess moisture. Dehumidifiers placed throughout the premises dry the area thoroughly. We also work with insurance to accelerate claims.
Water damage will not evaporate on its own. Home and business owners need the help of reliable flood damage cleanup experts, like ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration in Quincy, Illinois. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to your emergency water damage crisis.