• World History

The Worst Floods in History

Water can be incredibly dangerous, a powerful force strong enough to wipe entire cities off the map. Floods are one of nature's scariest natural disasters, and the worst floods in history have swept millions to their doom. People killed in floods often drown, but that is not the only source of death. A lot of fatalities are caused by the aftermath of the flood. Starvation due to famine or diseases spread via water contamination have claimed many flood victims historically. 

Flood deaths are a common threat throughout the world, with some places being particularly prone to floods. The deadliest floods in history brought havoc and chaos on towns and cities. Flood waters can disrupt entire ecosystems, destroy economies, and send advanced societies back to the stone age in an instant. These floods live on as legends, an ominous reminder that we should never take the power of nature for granted. To learn more, browse this list of the worst floods around the world. 

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  • 1362 St. Marcellus Flood

    Date: January 16, 1362
    Location: Ireland, Britain, and northern Germany
    Death Toll: 25,000

    High winds that started in Dublin set the 1362 St. Marcellus Flood in motion. The storm soon moved to England, destroying thousands of trees and causing damage to many structures. Once the storm reached the North Sea, its forces combined with the high tide to cause a massive storm surge that smashed into nearby ports and flooded many cities. In the end, roughly 25,000 people lost their lives in the disaster. 

  • 1999 Vargas Mudslides

    Date: December 1999 
    Location: Vargas, Venezuela 
    Death Toll: Between 10,000 and 30,000 

    Rainstorms lasting 10 days caused a series of mudslides along the Venezuelan coast, particularly the state of Vargas. In addition to the mudslides, a series of floods caused even more damage for the region. Then president Hugo Chávez brought in military aid and the American and Red Cross agencies also joined the relief efforts. However, many lives were still lost in the disaster. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people died due to a combination of flooding and mudslides. 

  • 1570 All Saints' Flood

    Date: November 1, 1570 
    Location: The Netherlands (especially Antwerp, Friesland, and Zeeland)
    Death Toll: More than 20,000

    Following a prolonged period of storms, numerous dikes collapsed along the shores of the Netherlands. As a result, the entire coast was flooded. Those living near the waters were particularly vulnerable. While the exact numbers were never recorded, it's likely more than 20,000 people lost their lives in the disaster.