Causes and consequences of floods

How floods arise, what are they and what can we do about it?

Extreme weather with heavy rainfall, combined with high seawater can cause major problems. “Room for the river” is widely appreciated in Europe. This means, that when extreme amounts of water flow through the rivers, storing the excessive water in rural areas like retention basins and floodplains.

Some countries like the Netherlands have parts of the country that lie below sea level. Through centuries of battle against water the Netherlands has developed a tremendously well and reliable protection system of dikes and barriers. The Netherlands herein is an example for many other countries. Dutch water experts are also often sent abroad for advice and help with flood protection.

In particular in recent years we’ve experienced a lot of floods. Think back to 2013-2014 when Germany had to deal with heavy flooding. And during these years England also had a lot of problems with flooding. Sometimes the water was up to their waists for months.

A flood is a natural disaster which can affect the well-being of man. Usually, at least once a year, high water or flooding occurs in the rivers by melting snow from the mountains and/or extreme rainfall. In some cases, the water is too much and dikes can no longer cope with the amount of water and will overflow. This happens all over the world, Bangladesh is one of the countries in Asia where every year during the raining season, millions of people become homeless. But the floods also bring fertile silt, thus benefiting agriculture by fertile soil.

Obviously, there are more causes of flooding, some of them caused by man. Causes such as deforestation, global warming and construction in locations where there should actually be space for water. All in all, there are a lot of factors that cause flooding. It is also often a combination of multiple factors.

The sandbag has played a role in flood protection for years. Nowadays, more and more new initiatives unfold that can eliminate the sandbag. The Tube Barrier is an innovation that may well eliminate the sandbag.

Flashflood

This event is like the word already mentioned a very rapid flood. It is a sudden and destructive rush of water down a narrow gully or stream or over a sloping surface. There is not much that can withstand a flashflood, it comes and goes so fast that there is hardly any time to react.

Tsunami

Tsunami; also known as “seismic sea wave” are most often generated by seismic activity such as earthquakes on the seabed. This creates a tidal wave which is incredibly high and forceful. A wall of water followed by a huge mass of water. This unfortunately this usually causes lots of deaths and injuries.

Climate change and flooding

Climate change in relationship to Flooding

The effects of climate change become more visible to society every day.

Rising sea levels combined with more frequent and more extreme weather resulting in floods cause unprecedented water levels.

Figure 1 shows the evolution of the number of natural disasters that have been recorded from 1980 to 2011.
The use of sandbags is the oldest and best known solution against flooding that, to this day, is primarily used.

Placement and removal requires a major commitment of men, material and equipment.

Besides the fact that society is confronted with high water levels and especially with the speed in which high water levels are reached.

Is that one of the reasons that governments, industry and consumers are looking for a temporary dam is to reduce time and money spent by installing and removing temporary dikes.

Sea levels are rising and extreme weather becomes more common. Companies and families will face a growing threat of flooding. To this day, with a threat of flooding, sandbags are primarily used.

Placement and removal of sandbags require a large commitment of manpower and equipment. The Tube Barrier is a temporary weir that can be used just like sandbags to hold back rising water.

The distinctiveness of the Tube Barrier is that it

(1) is quick to install.

(2) requires little manpower for installation and removal.

(3) does not need additional aids such as machinery and electricity for installation.

(4) is reusable.

This in contrast to the use of sandbags which in addition, sometimes must also be disposed of after use, as chemical waste.

The use of sandbags is the oldest solution against flooding

The use of sandbags is the oldest solution against flooding

Not everybody will give a moment’s thought about the removal of the sandbags. Often there are enough volunteers as well as the army building the dikes, but removing the dikes… who’s going to do that? In some cases, the sand in the bags is also contaminated by overflow from flooding of sewage, and industrial areas in which contaminated waste is stored. This sand is labeled as contaminated soil and cannot be reused everywhere. The contaminated soil and high costs that the build and removal of the temporary dikes entails will make a big dent in the town’s budget.

Building a dike with these bags takes a lot of time and effort. Getting the necessary equipment in the right place in the shortest amount of time is a huge challenge. There are many volunteers needed who are willing to fill bags and build dikes. There are thousands of sandbags needed to build a small dike of only half a meter high over a length of a 100 meters. And to achieve this in an inconvenient location where transport can be difficult will be an even bigger challenge.

The use of sandbags is the oldest and best known solution against flooding. Sandbags are cheap and widely available. It’s a centuries-old system that really does not fit in this modern time and age. The bag has not really changed over time. There are sand bags available made of jute and a synthetic fiber. The latter is usually 1 or 2 times reusable, jute on the other hand decays quickly and is therefore not reusable.