Natural calamities like earthquakes, avalanche volcanoes floods, etc. create havoc, time and again, in our lives. Flood is one such calamity which not only brings untold miseries to people but because of its recurring nature, it leaves our country in ruins every year. Can there be a more terrible sight than when we see entire villages being washed away and people stranded with nothing to live on?
The ravages of flood and its consequences are beyond description. Rural poverty and general backwardness have been further aggravated by these floods occurring every year.
Three factors account for the frequent occurrence of flood in India. They are – (i) India being in the Monsoon region (ii) The existence of west plains in the north and (iii) Long stretch of the mountainous region in the North and North East. The north and north-eastern part of India lies in the heart of Monsoon belt and as a result experiences heavy annual rainfall. Continuous rain causes the numerous streams and rivers of the vast plains of the north to overflow, resulting in the flooding of the low lying areas of the Gangetic and Brahmaputra plains. Recent studies have found that global warming resulting in ice melting in the river upstreams creates flood havoc.
Floods are the most common and widespread of all-natural disasters. India is one of the highly flood-prone countries in the world. Around 40 million hectares of land in India is prone to floods as per National Flood Commission report. Floods cause damage to houses, industries, public utilities and property resulting in huge economic losses, apart from the loss of lives. Though it is not possible to control the flood disaster totally, by adopting suitable structural and non-structural measures the flood damages can be minimised. For planning any flood management measure latest, reliable, accurate and timely information is required. In this context, remote sensing plays an important role.
Unfortunately, these measures often come too late or are too inadequate to meet the hardships caused by floods. The main preventive measures consist of steps such as the construction of check-dams and reservoirs, establishment of several river-valley projects, creation of embankments, dredging of riverbeds, etc. But, these steps have failed to reduce the menace that has been hitting India, year after year, with all might and fury.
Food disaster management in the flood-prone areas of our country is necessary where technically qualified people such as scientists, engineers, geologists, meteorologists, etc. can prepare a successful plan. This is very important for immediate planning at the time of flood and after the flood for rehabilitations and also for forecasting along with preparedness. In this manner, the severe consequences of this major natural calamity can be minimised.
Impacts on housing
The damage of houses is more visible and prominent. The extent of damage to the houses depends on the roofing and wall structures. It was found that unlike roofs with CGI sheets, straw roofs exhibited water leakage after continuous rain. Further, mud walls that soak water were reported to collapse easily. The sustainability of water protection capability is very low for this mad-made house. Therefore, during the monsoon period, continuous rainwater makes the house wall softer and loos. The thatched houses are severely damaged after flooding whereas houses with cemented pillar, brick wall and concrete houses are partially damaged from the flood.
Impacts on agriculture
Agriculture is the mainstay of the study area’s economy. Almost 85% of people directly
depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
For the majority of the people, there is hardly any surplus of land since the size of the landholding is very small. Very few well‐off farmers have switched from domestic to commercial farming as a large area of agriculture land is being swept away or made unproductive by the flood through river erosion, sedimentation and inundation.
Impacts on livestock
The flood also caused losses of the livestock like goat/sheep, chicken, buffalo, and cow/oxen. As the animal husbandry is the second-largest income of livelihood after agriculture, sweeping of some of the livestock and deaths by the flood of many others from unidentified diseases after the flood had an impact on the livelihood of the people.
During flood time the livestock suffers from different types of health-related problems
very frequently, and it is very difficult to manage the medical service for sick livestock. Sometimes these cattle need to be shifted at an animal hospital far from the locality.
Impacts on road and transport
The flood has damaged the existing canal for a water pass. People reported that the road situation during monsoon is very poor due to continuous flooding, erosion and
From the individual household interview, it was found out that during the flood period all of the roads were overflow by the floodwater. The boat was the only vehicle to maintain social communication as well as to go to any place from the house. The maximum people of the study area are poor therefore, most of the people were unable to manage or buy a personal boat. For these regions, transport and social communication were much more difficult.
Impacts on health
From all respondents of this study, it was found that during the flood period health facilities were most commonly affected. All types of health centre remain closed as floodwater goes inside those centres. During this period, different water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, jaundice and skin-related health problems are most commonly seen. Especially, children and aged people are most commonly suffered from these types of health-related problems. Primary treatment sometime might not be possible due to lack of accessibility of basic health facilities. Medicine facilities become a difficult service during any flood, as told by the respondents of this study.
On the other hand, the flood severely affects pregnant mothers due to shortage of health facilities.
Impacts on local society
Similar to damage of physical assets, the flood has also eroded the social assets like neighbourhood, brotherhood and strong bondage of kinship. The rate of erosion of social assets is continuing in recent years. It was shared that when a community is hit by the flood, many families are forced to evacuate in safe places for some period of time ‐ some days to several weeks. As a result, all social institutions are likely to be affected during this period. Indeed, the entire social fabric that defines a population as a community is seriously weakened. People are compelled to relocate, some permanently, hence neighbourhoods are destroyed, friendships are severed, support networks are broken and domestic relationships come under greater stress.
Schools, social groups and families are apt to never be the same after the flood. After a big flood, family roles and responsibilities undergo considerable change with worsened economic hardship and living conditions. It was also found that during the relocation, people are unable to adapt to the new environmental system to ease the situation in the study area.
Impacts on local society
Similar to damage of physical assets, the flood has also eroded the social assets like neighbourhood, brotherhood and strong bondage of kinship. The rate of erosion of social assets is continuing in recent years. It was shared that when a community is hit by the flood, many families are forced to evacuate in safe places for some period of time ‐ some days to several weeks. As a result, all social institutions are likely to
be affected during this period. Indeed, the entire social fabric that defines a population as a community is seriously weakened. People are compelled to relocate, some permanently, hence neighbourhoods are destroyed, friendships are severed, support networks are broken and domestic relationships come under greater stress.
Schools, social groups and families are apt to never be the same after the flood.
After a big flood, family roles and responsibilities undergo considerable change with worsened economic hardship and living conditions.