The Topic:
Floods & Flooding

Easier - A flood is a very large number or amount of something that rises and spreads. A stream, river, or lake floods when water overflows beyond its banks. Flooding waters cover land that is usually dry.
Harder - A portion of the water from rain or snow is retained by the soil. Some water is absorbed by the lands vegetation. A portion of the excess water evaporates into the air. But the remaining water drains into stream channels as runoff. Flooding occurs when the soil and vegetation cannot absorb all the water, and the water runoff is a quantity exceeding the capacity of the stream channels, natural ponds, and constructed reservoirs. Approximately 30 percent of all precipitation becomes runoff, and the amount can be greatly increased by melting snow masses.
A flood that rises and falls rapidly with little or no advance warning is called a flash flood. They are usually the result of intense rainfall over a relatively small area. Streams and rivers periodically flood and the adjacent dry lands that are covered are called flood plains. The main causes of floods are heavy rains and fast-melting snow masses. Coastal areas are occasionally flooded by unusually high tides caused by severe winds over the ocean surfaces, or by tsunamis resulting from undersea earthquakes. Coastal flooding can also be caused by intense rain squalls that accompany a hurricane.
Floods can damage and destroy property. They endanger the lives of people and animals. Flooding currents erode the flood plains and carry and deposit sediment downstream. The habitat of fish and other wildlife are often destroyed. The financial losses due to flooding amounts to millions of dollars every year. Many of the methods used for flood control have been practiced since ancient times including reforestation, and the construction of levees, dams and reservoirs, and flood channels to redirect floodwater.
Flash Food (Grades 3-10) from KGAN's WeatherEye
This is an interactive lesson about flash floods and other types of floods.
Another Online Flood Lesson:
2) Life in the Flood Zone (Grades 8-12) from The Cincinnati Enquirer
Flood from PBS NOVA Online
Here you find lots of information about flooding of the Mississippi, Nile, and Yellow Rivers.
Related Websites from PBS:
2) Floods from Online NewsHour
Flood from Storm Encyclopedia at
This comprehensive site is a good starting point for learning about floods.
Related Websites:
2) Climate Change and River Flooding: Special Report from Greenpeace
3) Flood and Flash Flood from American Red Cross
4) Flood Q & A from RiverWatch Online
Floods from Environment Canada
This is a comprehensive site for information on floods.
Related Websites:
2) Flood from The Environment Agency (United Kingdom)
3) Flood Damage Reduction Program
4) Floods from National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
5) Resources: Floods and Droughts from USA Today Weather
You may also want to visit these related 42eXplore projects from eduScapes: (1) Disaster, Catastrophe & Calamity, (2) Drought, (3) Rivers, (4) Mississippi River, (5) Water, (6) Weather, and (7) Wetlands.
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of the following activities.
Create A Flood pamphlet. Choose one of these topics for your focus: (1) Flash Flood Safety, (2) Preparing for a Flood, and (3) After the Flood - Returning to Normal. Use the websites and other library media resources to research the selected topic. Then create an attractive and informative pamphlet.
Debate River Management & Flood Control Issues. Using the articles below or other resources that you find, pick an issue, decide where you stand and prepare an argument that identifies and supports your opinion.
1) Can We Prevent Floods in the Red River Valley? by B. Reha of Minnesota Public Radio
2) China's Three Gorges Dam by B. Kennedy from CNN Interactive
3) Damming the Missouri from American Rivers
4) Flood Control Projects Endanger Recreation by J. Reiman from Prism Online
5) Floodplains and Wetlands from American Rivers
6) Forty Years of Controversy and Achievement in North American Fisheries by J.L.
Rasmussen, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
7) “Harnessing” Rivers – II by K. Sharma
8) Have Flood Controls on the Mississippi River Been Successful?
9) Wisconsin Dam Removals Bring Support, Fun, Fish by S. Devlin of the Missoulian
Create A Flood Poster. Decide what is the most important public issue related to floods and flooding. Then create an eye-catching poster that communicates a message. Display the poster!
Conduct A Flood Interview. What floods have occurred in your region? Find friends, neighbors, and/or relatives who have experienced a flood. Conduct an interview with them to gather their recollections of the event. You will find lots of help with this process (Learn how to do it right) at another 42eXplore project, Oral History, also from eduScapes.
Monitor This Year's Flood Season. Pick a time-period (week, month, or 2-3 months) and monitor flooding in the United States, North America, and/or the World. You can do some of this online using sites such as:
1) All Flooding from Hydrologic Information Center of National Weather Service
2) Dartmouth Flood Observatory from Dartmouth College
3) Earth Watch
4) FloodRisk from EarthSat
5) Significant River Flood Outlook from National Weather Service
6) Wild Weather
But you may also include other media resources such as newspapers, television, and magazines. Keep a log that dates, identifies, and locates each flood. You may want to develop a world map showing the location. Gather as much data as possible regarding the severity, duration, and impact of each flood event. Create a flood "scrapbook" that includes all your research and include a summary and your own reflective thoughts. Your flood scrapbook could be virtual - - a webpage or multimedia project.
Analyze A Historic Flood. Pick a significant flood that has occurred and analyze it to identify the probable causes, the effects and impacts, and suggestions for lessening or eliminating future flooding occurrences. Summarize your findings.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Brabant Fights Against Water (2000 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
This site tells what causes the floods and how floods are fought by people in Holland.
Committee for the Citizens' Protection from Floods (1999 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
For many years flooding has been the main problem of this land (12 flooding events occurred in the last 60 years), causing high risks even for the people’s safety.
Floods and Flash Floods (Grade 7)
This project page provides information on flooding and types of floods.
More Websites 
Backgrounder: Floods And Flash Floods from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Flash floods and floods are the #1 weather - related killer recorded in the U.S. each year. Learn what to do before, during, and after floods.
Related Section from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
2) Basics of Flooding
Related Websites:
3) Are You Ready for a Flood or a Flash Flood? from the American Red Cross
4) Are You Ready for a Flood or a Flash Flood?
5) Flash Flood from National Weather Service
6) Flash Food Safety from National Weather Service
7) Flood Preparation from RiverWatch Online
8) Floods: What to Do Before and After from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing
Dartmouth Flood Observatory from Dartmouth College
This project uses remote sensing technology as a tool for early detection, mapping, measurement, and analysis of worldwide extreme flood events. In addition to downloadable satellite images, there is a register of international large river flooding for the last several years in their site.
Related Websites:
2) All Flooding from Hydrologic Information Center of National Weather Service
3) FloodRisk from EarthSat
4) Significant River Flood Outlook from National Weather Service
Evolution of the 1936 Flood Control Act (Advanced level document) from United States Army Corps of Engineers
The origin of the Flood Control Act of 1936 dates back to the 19th century, even though it was passed by Congress as part of Roosevelt's New Deal administration.
Floods and Flood Plains from U.S. Geological Survey
Look at what causes floods and how the risks can be reduced.
Flood Information for Your Home from North Dakota State University Extension Service
Here is information for before and after a flood.
Related Websites:
2) After the Flood Information from North Dakota State University Extension Service
3) Fact Sheet: Flood Cleanup - Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems from U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
4) Flood from National Center for Environmental Health
5) Flood Cleanup Information from Iowa Cooperative Extension Services
6) Flooded
7) Flood Recovery from RiverWatch Online
8) Flood Recovery Booklet from Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium
How Do Trees and Plants Help Prevent Flooding? from Yahooligans! Ask Earl
This brief site answers the question . . .
Learning Center from Floodplain Management Association
This nonprofit Association was established in 1990 to promote the reduction of flood losses and to encourage the protection and enhancement of natural flood plain values. Members include representatives of federal, state and local government agencies as well as private firms.
National Flood Insurance Program from Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in response to the rising cost of taxpayer funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods.
Sandbagging for Flood Protection by G. Maher from North Dakota State University Extension Service
Learn how to build a proper sandbag dike to prevent or reduce flood damage.
Related Website:
2) How to Construct a Sandbag Emergency Levee
3) Sandbag Construction from U.S. Corp of Engineers
4) Sandbag Dike Construction
Stream Gaging and Flood Forecasting-partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey & National Weather Service
The National Weather Service (NWS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is widely known as the Federal agency in charge of weather forecasting and warning for the Nation. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) operates and maintains more than 85 percent of the Nation's stream-gaging stations, which includes 98 percent of those that are used for real-time river forecasting.
Who needs Flood Insurance? from The Consumer Insurance Guide
Learn about home flood insurance policies.
Related Website:
2) Flood Insurance from RiverWatch Online
Specific Floods
Bangladesh Floods Rise Again from BBC News
Flooding is an annual event in Bangladesh. But the 1998, the flood continued for more than 65 days, affected 1,00,000, and destroyed basic infrastructures like roads, bridges, houses, standing crops of the fields, plus killed birds, animal and cattle, and 2,000 people.
Related Sites:
2) Bangladesh Drowning Under a Sea of Flood Waters, Sewage by D. Rekenthaler
3) Bangladesh: Record Floods are a Human, Economic Emergency by T. Islam
4) Collapse of Bangladesh Dam Averted, But Epic Floods Continue by J. Brill
East Coast Floods 1953
On the night of 31 January 1953, the east coast of England suffered one of the worst floods in living memory and one of the biggest environmental disasters ever to have occurred in this country.
Related Websites:
2) Lynmouth Flood of 1952
3) Lynmouth Flood
Fatal Flood from PBS American Experience
This site explores one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. History, the 1927 Mississippi River flood that killed hundreds.
Related Websites:
2) Flood of 1927 from Arkansas Delta Cultural Center
3) Flood of 1927 from United States Army Corp of Engineers
4) Great Flood from National Geographic
Flood of 1997: Rivers Unleashed from The Cincinnati Enquirer
A special commemorative section about the deadly 1997 flood in Ohio includes news stories, photos, explanations, and facts about other infamous floods.
Related Websites:
2) 1997 Flood in Grand Forks, North Dakota
3) Fargo Flood from North Dakota State University
4) Flood of the Century
5) Flood on '97 (Manitoba, Canada)
6) Red River Diary
7) Who Decides? Forecasts and Responsibilities in the 1997 Red River Flood by R.A.
Pielke, Jr.
Flood of the Century by A. Henrikson of The Topeka Capital-Journal
Learn about the Kansas flood of 1951.
Grand Canyon Flood!
In order to restore the natural balance of the river, a historic release of water was spilled from the Glen Canyon Dam on March 26, 1996, producing a man-made flood. Considered to be one of the biggest river experiments ever, researchers hoped to determine a better scientific basis for future management of all the river's resources.
Great USA Flood of 1993 by L.W. Larson
The 1993 Midwest flood was one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States.
Related Website:
2) Flood Analysis by P. Baumann
3) Great Flood of Summer 1993 from Earth in Space
4) Mississippi River Flood: 1993
Johnstown Flood National Memorial from National Park Service
Learn about the 1889 flood that devastated Pennsylvania.
Related Website:
2) Cause of the Johnstown Flood by W.S. Frank
3) History of the Johnstown Flood
4) Johnstown Flood
5) Johnstown Flood
6) Johnstown Flood Museum from Johnstown Area Heritage Association
7) Johnstown Flood National Memorial from National Park Service
8) Roar Like Thunder, A
Mozambique Floods 2000 from BBC News
See photos of the flooding, read first hand accounts, and learn how life in Mozambique returned to normal.
Related Websites:
2) Floods in Mozambique
3) Mozambique Floods
4) Mozambique Floods from Guardian Unlimited
What We Have Learned Since The Big Thompson Flood by E. Gruntfest from University of Colorado
On July 31, 1976, the Big Thompson Canyon was filled with residents and visitors. That night a flash flood ravaged the canyon causing the worst natural disaster, in terms of documented lives lost, in Colorado state history.
Related Website:
2) Big Thompson Canyon Flood of 1976
Willamette Valley Flood of 1996
This site identifies the causes of the flood, contains photos, and makes comparisons to the flood of 1964.
Websites For Teachers
Chasing the Flood (Grades 7-12) from Center for Global Environmental Education, Hamline University
As changing climatic and seasonal conditions change water levels in rivers worldwide, participants in Chasing the Flood document the changing snow depth, precipitation rates, and water levels in their local rivers.
Flood (Grades 6-8) from DiscoverySchool
This experiment helps students understand that different types of soil have different capacities for retaining rainwater.
Flood - Loaded Down (Grades 3-5) from Discovery Channel School
Rivers carry pieces of rock from mountains to the oceans. But when water slows down, what happens to that sediment?
Flood Plains and Levees from Lockview High School, Fall River, Nova Scotia
Students recognize the spatial distribution of rivers, valley floors, flood plains, levees, and meanders.
Here Comes The Flood . . . Maybe (Grades 6-12)
Students will role play both New York City residents and local villagers trying to decide whether to construct a new reservoir. Students present their opinions on whether or not the reservoir should be built. Then the class, representing the State Water Commission, decides what to do.
Overflowing the Banks (Grades 3-8) from Education World
Students discover how levees hold a river within its banks and cause the height of the river to rise and back up into less well-protected tributaries (small streams) that feed into the river.
Raven and the Flood
Raven and the Flood is a tale loosely based on the story of Noah's ark. After a huge flood, Raven and Dove are sent to find land. Both return, each with a different piece of evidence that there is dry land. This text could be used as an introduction to a social studies unit on the effects of flooding in various parts of the world.
Run for Your Lives! The Johnstown Flood of 1889 (Grades 5-12) by F. Metcalf, Teaching with Historic Places
Learners examine maps, photographs, and written records to analyze the circumstances that caused the flood and to explain how it could have been prevented.
What's a Flood? (Grade 4) by J. Davidson
Students will demonstrate what a flood is, what causes a flood, the impacts of human activity, and ways flood progression can be slowed.
spring rain
non-engineered levee
dam failure
heavy thunderstorm
disaster, catastrophe, & calamity
ice breakup
Mississippi River
flood watch
dam design
surface water
flood frequency
flood warning
winter snow thaw
El Niño
flood insurance
trees & forests
flood plain
flood wall
flood control
flash flood
National Flood Insurance Program
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 2/03.