Floods cause loss of life and damage to structures, crops, land, flood control structures, roads, and utilities. Floods also cause erosion and landslides, and can transport debris and toxic products that cause secondary damage. Flood damage in Washington State exceeds damage by all other natural hazards.
Floods can also occur in rivers when the flow rate exceeds the capacity of the river channel, particularly at bends or meanders in the waterway. Floods often cause damage to homes and businesses if they are in the natural flood plains of rivers. While riverine flood damage can be eliminated by moving away from rivers and other bodies of water, people have traditionally lived and worked by rivers because the land is usually flat and fertile and because rivers provide easy travel and access to commerce and industry.
Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighbourhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins.
Source: Wash. Military Department, Emergency Management Division
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