Negative Flood Effects

Written by joan whetzel
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Negative Flood Effects
Flooding can negatively impact roadways and bridges and can disrupt people's lives. (flood image by brelsbil from

Rainfall refills the water supplies that people and industries depend on every day. It also encourages plant growth and washes pollutants from the atmosphere. When it falls in excessive amounts or falls so quickly that the soil can't absorb it and the rivers and streams can't carry it away quickly enough, flooding occurs. This can lead to considerable economic damage in urban and rural areas as well as damage to the environment.

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Flooding can severely stress or even kill trees, depending on how deeply or how long they remain submerged. Floods kill trees that are completely covered by water and seedlings pushed over by the force of the water or buried under silt. Prolonged flooding can cause root rot, leading to tree death. Prior tree health plays a role in whether the trees survive after flooding.


Flooding results in poor soil aeration, leading to poor plant growth. Soil becomes more acidic following flooding. In addition, flooding can lead to soil erosion or soil contamination from such man-made pollutants as oils (on roadways), fertilisers (in yards and farms) and paints.

Economic Losses

Economic losses may come in the form of road or bridge destruction, damage to buildings and homes and crop or livestock losses leading to reduced food supplies. Storm drainage and raw sewage systems also may need repairs or replacements.

Urban Impact

Flooding causes traffic problems by cutting off streets, collapsing overpasses and bridges and causing traffic-light failures. Cars may stall and can even be carried off by flood waters. Flood waters interrupt gas, electricity and water services and contaminates the water supply, making drinkable water unavailable. Transportation systems may go off-line because buses, trains and cabs can't navigate the high water. Food from farms and markets can't be transported into flooded areas, creating food shortages.

People can die in floods when their autos and homes are overtaken quickly by fast-rising flood waters. Homes, personal belongings and businesses can be damaged or lost entirely as a result of ravages of flooding. People may be unable to get to work, creating loss of income and a lack of services they would provide.

Rural Impact

Floods damage farmland by burying crops in silt, uprooting crops by the force of the water or drowning crops. Flood waters can drown livestock as well. Flooding devastates wetlands and other wildlife habitats by depositing massive amounts of silt or leaving behind toxic substances such as petroleum products, fertilisers and pesticides and other man-made chemicals. This can kill animals and lead to water and land pollution.


Flooding increases human exposure to dysentery and other diseases. Flooded sewage treatment plants contaminate drinking water supplies. Contaminated drinking water is a greater problem in developing countries.

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