Social Disruption

The descriptions of the environmental effects, the sizable and pervasive economic impacts, and the complex maze of governmental actions due to the three recent floods all lead to the same obvious conclusion: There were considerable impacts on society in the flooded areas. Fatalities in the floods were a relatively small number considering the magnitude of the floods, reflecting improvements in flood prediction and warning. Fighting the flood was one of the major efforts of the 1993 and 1997 floods. The massive efforts involved thousands of persons residing in the threatened floodplains, volunteers, and hundreds of National Guard troops. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes along the Mississippi in 1993, along tributaries of the Illinois River in 1996, and along the Ohio in 1997.

Anxiety among flood victims was high for long periods due to the initial fear of being flooded, the actual flooding and damages to personal property, and finally the exhaustive cleanup and restoration process. Loss of residence, or fear of its loss, was a primary cause of stress, along with loss of primary services, including protracted outages of power, water, and sewage treatment in communities and farms along the flooded rivers. Social disruption from the flood is most startling when viewed through the following numbers: of 94,000 persons evacuated from their residences in the summer of 1993, 45,000 were homeless at the end of November 1993, and 3000 were still homeless in June 1994. Furthermore, 61,000 Midwestern homes were seriously damaged, of which 60% were a total loss. The 1996 flash flood led to evacuations of 13,000, and 35,000 homes were flooded. The 1997 flood led to evacuations of 28,000 persons and flooding of 83,000 homes.

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