Over the centuries, natural disasters have largely been unavoidable. They are hard to predict, almost impossible to withstand, and the after-effects are devastating. Earthquakes, famines, volcanic eruptions – humans across the world have witnessed enough of these. Moreover, floods have also been a great cause of disaster. While we consider water to be a fundamental element that enables crops to grow and helps sustain livelihoods, it can also leave a drastic impact in excess. Too much of anything can be harmful. The following is a list of some of the worst floods that have wreaked havoc on the lives of people and caused immeasurable damage:
10. Saint Marcellus’ Flood
One of the oldest recorded floods to have had a severe impact, the Saint Marcellus’ flood took place as long ago as 1362, over six hundred years ago. Also known as ‘Grote Mandrenke’, which means the great drowning of men, the disastrous event hit Holland, the British Isles, and Denmark. It is believed the flood originated from a massive gale from the Atlantic Ocean, and then found its way to the aforementioned areas. The disastrous event destroyed a plethora of towns across the countries. In fact, as many as 25,000 people are known to have lost their lives in the calamity. The flood made inhabitants in those areas aware of how damaging and unpredictable the weather can be.
9. Yangtze River Flood
The Yangtze River floods were a series of deadly floods that impacted the Hubei province of People’s Republic of China. They hit the region for a period of three months – from June to September in 1954, and caused extensive damage. Although the Yangtze River is the largest Asian river and is of great importance to China, it has also been catastrophic in nature. The river is so violent that when the floods struck, all efforts to stop them went into vain. Three floodgates were open to stop the water level from rising, and yet the flood ended up taking as many as 33,000 lives.
8. Bangladesh Famine
Bangladesh went through a dark phase in 1974, characterized by poverty and the deaths of many people. The Brahmaputra river, one of the largest in the world, that flows through India, China, and Bangladesh was responsible for the famine. Because of massive floods along the river, the famine took place in Bangladesh, resulting in a pathetic situation where people starved to death. While official estimates say that there were approximately 27,000 casualties, unofficial figures place the number at close to 1.5 million. The floods led to a situation of calamity and disaster throughout the country for a long period of time.
7. Eastern Guatemala Flood
Guatemala is a country in Central America that is bordered by Mexico on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The Pacific Ocean has been infamous for the number of storms and hurricanes that originate in it and end up affecting nearby coastlines. In 1949, one such hurricane hit Guatemala and caused one of the worst flooding disasters the country has ever witnessed. Not only did the flood kill as many as 40,000 people, but it also left countless number of people without homes to live in. The flood caused great losses to the country, in terms of human life, as well as money.
6. The Hanoi Delta Flood
During the Vietnam War, things were difficult and tense in Vietnam. However, the bad situation was made increasingly worse with one of the worst floods in the region. The Red River, flowing through Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, flooded the region known as the Hanoi delta. Heavy downpours of rain that wouldn’t seem to stop destroyed the delta region, ending in widespread loss of life. A whopping 1,00,000 people lost their lives in the vicious flood. The fact that the flood took place during the time of war made things even worse as most of the region’s crops were also destroyed.
5. St. Felix Flood
Another deadly flood that struck the Netherlands, the St. Felix flood took place hundreds of years ago in 1530. Since the flood took place on the name day of St. Felix, it came to be named after him. The flood was so huge in size that a major portion of the Netherlands was washed away in it. Only a few small towns were able to survive its fury. It is estimated that the flood killed over 120,000 people, making it one of the worst Dutch floods of all time.
4. Yangtze River Flood of 1935
The Yangtze River has a tumultuous history of flooding. In 1935, a disastrous flood hit the Southeastern Region of China. This flood was much more dangerous and catastrophic than its successor which took place in 1954. The flood not only killed over 150,000 people, but also caused far-reaching damage and destruction in the entire region, preventing economic growth and sustenance. The flood also brought with it various water-borne diseases like malaria and typhoid that further worsened the situation. Those who were able to survive drowning, contracted life-threatening diseases.
3. The Banqiao Dam Failure
Situated in the River Ru in the Henan province of China, the Banqiao Dam is known as a structure and symbol that is associated with a major disaster. A typhoon by the name of Nina struck the region in 1975, and various dams were damaged or destroyed during the ordeal. It was assumed that the Banqiao damn would be able to withstand the heavy rainfall. However, the rainfall was twice the threshold amount and the dam collapsed. The typhoon along with the overflowing river caused massive floods in the region. More than 160,000 people lost their lives and millions of people were left without homes. The flood also cost China hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
2. Yellow River Flood
The second longest river in Asia, the Yellow River, is as infamous as the Yangtze when it comes to natural disasters. In 1887, the Yellow River flood took place. It was one of the worst natural disasters in history. Due to overflowing, the river submerged surrounding areas, leading to as many as 900,000 people losing their lives. Besides the myriad deaths, the floods also left people without homes and destroyed their means of sustenance, that is, their crops and agriculture.
1. The China Floods
China has withstood various flooding disasters over the centuries. However, none have been as devastating as the China floods of 1931. The ordeal began in 1930, when a drought struck the entire country. Soon after, abnormal weather conditions such as heavy snowstorms and rains brought up water levels to an unimaginably high level. The situation was exacerbated with deadly cyclones in 1931 which made rivers overflow throughout the country. It is estimated that the death toll from this flood was one of the highest ever, with as many as four to five million dead.