When India was flooded

An aerial view shows partially submerged houses at a flooded area in Kerala. REUTERS

Floods are natural hazards which occur when water overflows and inundates land which is normally dry. Floods are a result of excessive rainfall, bursting/ rupturing of dams or levee, rapid thawing of glaciers or snow on mountain peaks. Obstructions in the path of rivers also cause floods. Flooding of coastal areas can even be due to tsunamis and storms.

In the wake of the recent devastating floods which has claimed over 350 lives in Kerala, around a dozen in Kodagu; rendered thousands homeless and damaged properties worth over Rs 19,500 crores and Rs 2,000 crores in Kerala and Kodagu respectively, here is a list of recorded floods which made the nation skip a beat:

1943 Madras floods

Chennai was brought to a standstill in October 1943 due to floods caused by the North-East monsoon. Excessive rains lasting over six days caused Coovum and Adyar rivers to overflow. Slums situated on the banks of Coovum were literally washed away. The floods, considered to be Chennai's worst floods, left thousands homeless and resulted in loss of lives and property.

1979 Morbi floods

The Machhu dam failure resulting in the deluge of the town of Morbi in Gujarat has been listed as the 'Worst Dam Burst' by Guinness Book of Records. On August 11, 1979, the 4 km long Machhu Dam located on Machhu river collapsed due to excessive rainfall which disintegrated the earthen walls of the dam. Within 20 minutes of the collapse, dam water reaching 12 to 30 ft height inundated the low-lying areas of the town. Estimates of death toll varies from 1,800 to 25,000 people.

1987 Bihar floods

Sorrow of Bihar - Kosi River unleashed its wrath in 1987 causing severe flooding of Bihar. A landslide blocked the flow of the river resulting in accumulation of water behind this 'dam' and triggered the floods. Over a thousand people and five thousand odd animals lost their lives. Damage to crops was estimated at Rs 6.8 billion and damage to public property at Rs 68 million.

2005 Gujarat floods

Unprecedented monsoon rainfall in June, 2005, affected 20 districts of Gujarat. The topography and poor drainage of the rain water aggravated the situation. The cumulative 505 mm of rain rendered 1,76,000 people homeless and also caused drowning of an Asiatic Lion in Gir wildlife Sanctuary.

2005 Maharashtra floods

The 2005 Maharashtra floods occurred in July, one month after the Gujarat floods. Many parts of the state were flooded, Mumbai in particular was inundated causing 1,094 deaths. On July 26, Mumbai received a rainfall of 944 mm -the eighth heaviest-ever recorded 24-hour rainfall. Preliminary estimates pegged the direct- loss at Rs 5.50 billion. The rainfall brought Mumbai to a standstill. The term 'July 26' now refers to the 2005 Mumbai floods.

2013 Uttarakhand floods

Uttarakhand witnessed a multiday cloudburst in June 2013 causing floods and landslides across the state. Rivers flowing through the states, choked with debris, overflowed causing more devastation. As per government sources, over 5,700 people were reported dead. Several pilgrims and tourists were trapped for days in the Hindu Chota Char Dham  pilgrimage sites. The cloudburst and subsequent swelling of the Himalayan rivers also caused loss of lives and properties in National Capital Region, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nepal.

2015 Gujarat floods

In 2015, Gujarat was flooded twice. First in June, followed by in July. In June, rainfall brought by Gujarat cyclone flooded the state. 80 deaths were reported. The famed Gir Forest National Park was severely affected, many animals perished.

In July, rainfalls due to deep depression over south-west Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat resulted in floods which caused the death of 72 people. Over 81,000 cattle also died. As per government estimates properties worth Rs 20 billion were damaged.

2015 South Indian floods

The 2015 South Indian floods which affected the coromandel coast of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is attributed to unusual heavy rainfall due to the 2014-2016 El Nino effect. Chennai in particular was left devasted, mainly due to 'Man-made reasons'. It is regarded as one of the costliest 'natural' disasters of 2015. Estimations of the losses ranged between Rs 200 billion to over Rs 1 trillion. Over 18 lakh people were displaced.

2016 Assam floods

The flooding of the mighty Brahmaputra is an annual event but in 2016 it shook Assam by displacing 1.8 million people. The inundation of Kaziranga National Park resulted in drowning of 300 wild animals in the flood water.

2017 Floods

In 2017, widespread monsoon caused flooding in South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan from July through September. Huge fluctuations in the monsoon winds carrying the moisture from the Arabian Sea due to climate change, resulted in heavy rainfall over central India. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called the South Asian floods, one of the 'worst regional humanitarian crises in years' as 45 million people were affected.

Gujarat, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh , Maharashtra (Mumbai in particular) were affected in the 2017 floods.

2018 Kodagu and Kerala floods

The flooding of Kodagu and Kerala was a result of two weeks of relentless rain. Opening of 35 dams across Kerala only worsened the situation.The Kerala floods, being regarded as the worst flood in a century, is comparable to the Great floods of 99 in which Karinthiri Mala, a huge mountain, was washed away. Government of India declared it as a Level 3 Calamity (Calamity of a severe nature).

To sum it up, floods are natural disasters but the destructions caused by it are aggravated by man-made factors.

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