Ecology And Environment

What a Flood Plain is and the Dangers of Living there

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"What a Flood Plain is and the Dangers of Living there"
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Living close to a lake or a stream of water is any person's dream and many tend to pursue their dream by building or buying homes close to the waterfront. However, such decisions may backfire at times, especially if the lake or the stream of water can overflow at times of heavy rains. In such instances, the surrounding land might flood and could pose a danger to the people living. The term ‘flood plain’ is used to describe such land and this article will describe ‘what exactly a flood plain is’ and ‘what are the dangers faced by people living in these flood plains.’

What is a flood plain?

In most instances, the lands, which are on either side of a flowing river or a water stream, are considered the flood plain. However, in instances of narrow water streams and when the banks on either side of the river are relatively high, the flood plains are considered to be shorter. However, when the water flow is wide and the banks on either side are almost at the level of the surrounding land, the flood plains are rather wide. In any circumstance, it is difficult to predict the length of the flood plain, although the local administrative authorities should be having a detailed map of the flood plains pertaining to a particular river, lake or a water stream.

However, in general, the flood plain definition given in the PA Administrative Code Title 25, indicates that, flood plains are “the areas that have been or may be expected to be inundated by flood water in a 100-year frequency flood.” Thus, the best thing to do in instances where someone needs to verify whether his or her land belongs to a flood plain, is to ask from the local administrative authorities.

What are the dangers of living in a flood plain?

In some flood plains, the constant threat of flooding should make the person take all necessary precautions to protect the lives and the property from flood related hazards. Flooding can sometimes harm the lives of people and therefore the most important step to be taken by those who are living in flood plains is to design and adhere to a flood evacuation plan. This should include the items that need to be taken, the routes towards higher grounds, the mode of transport, as well as the items required for emergencies. Thus, the threat to the life is the main danger in living in a flood plain although such events are rather rare.

Threat of damage to property is the second most important danger as it can destroy property including the house, which may worth thousands if not millions of dollars. Vehicles are also at risk of damage and therefore it is a wise decision to take an insurance policy with flood cover before such an event take place. Damage to important documents is another danger and therefore it is advised to keep such documents at a place other than at home for safety reasons.

Another danger of living in flood plains is the constant threat of losing power and other utility services, because floods can ruin these supplies and sometimes increase the life or property damage risk in such situations. At the same time, there may not be enough drinking water supply during flooding and therefore one needs to have adequate supplied within the house in the case of facing an emergency whereby people are stranded in the middle of the flood plain.

In some situations, the authorities might decide that flood plain should be evacuated and should no longer be available for human settlement. In such instances, one may have to evacuate and seek other places to build or buy a house. Thus, the uncertainty will always creep in if the risk of flooding is high in a particular flood plain.

As such, when someone decides to build or buy a house closer to a river or a lake, one should always check if it is a flood plain and if so, avoiding such places should be the ideal decision.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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