On August 18, 1931, the major rivers of eastern China flooded disastrously into nearby towns and farms. The Huai, Huang (Yellow), and Yangtze rivers all overflowed their banks. More than 140,000 people died—drowned, crushed by debris, or felled from the effects of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhus. Millions were left injured or homeless.
The floods were the result of unusual weather patterns and decades of poor river management. A long period of drought was followed by a severe winter, including record snowfall and heavy rains. This raised the water level of the rivers, whose beds had already become higher than the surrounding land. Silt had built up on the riverbeds as engineers constructed earthen levees and dikes along river banks, blocking the river’s natural flood plain. In 1931, pressure from the unusually heavy river burst the levees.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry cholera Noun
infectious, sometimes fatal disease that harms the intestines.
to build or erect.
remains of something broken or destroyed; waste, or garbage.
a barrier, usually a natural or artificial wall used to regulate water levels.
Encyclopedic Entry: dike drought Noun
period of greatly reduced precipitation.
Encyclopedic Entry: drought drown Verb
to die or suffocate in a liquid.
person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).
to overflow or cover in water or another liquid.
flood plain Noun
flat area alongside a stream or river that is subject to flooding.
Encyclopedic Entry: flood plain illness Noun
disease or sickness.
bank of a river, raised either naturally or constructed by people.
Encyclopedic Entry: levee river Noun
large stream of flowing fresh water.
Encyclopedic Entry: river river management Noun
the art and science of controlling the flow, path, and power of rivers.
small sediment particles.
Encyclopedic Entry: silt typhus Noun
highly infectious and sometimes deadly disease with symptoms of itching sores and severe headache, caused by lice.
weather pattern Noun
repeating or predictable changes in the Earth's atmosphere, such as winds, precipitation, and temperatures.