Floods are probably
the most devastating natural disasters. Every year they cause considerable
human and material loss. In China, for example, the Yangtze River
overflowed its banks in 1998 to cause massive floods that swept
away thousands of homes, necessitated the evacuation of tens of
thousands of people, and led to thousands of human fatalities. Whilst
the phenomenon in Belgium is less spectacular, floods are nevertheless
true threats with which towns, villages, trailer parks, and camping
areas located close to rivers and stream must reckon.
There is thus a fundamental need to mark
out on maps regularly flooded areas to prevent people moving into
them and constructing roads, buildings, and other infrastructure
projects. Computer programmes that can simulate the effects of various
types of river engineering (flood barriers, dams, holding ponds,
etc.) on the location and extent of flooding are also a must.