Surviving the Flood: Hear My Story
Surviving the Flood: Hear My Story
Built-up areas are very likely to flood. Construction of roads, malls, parking lots, and other buildings increases the chance of a flash flood. This is because the dirt and plants that absorb and slow the flow of floodwaters have been replaced with concrete and other building materials. As a result, there is more surface runoff. Bodies of water that run through cities and towns are also sometimes diverted to storm drains. If there is too much rain, the drains can overflow and flood the surrounding area.
The timely “Disaster Diaries” series offers readers a bit of a different twist on the usual books about natural disasters. Its nonfiction chapters alternate with stories, fairly graphic in nature, told from a child’s perspective. Though the children and their families are fictional, their stories are gleaned from personal accounts of natural disaster survivors. In this regard, the subtitles of the books are somewhat of a misnomer for the stories represent less than 40 per cent of the entire text. Each title is comprised of 13 chapters as well as a table of contents, a glossary, an index, and a list of books and web sites for further study. The main body of the text describes the causes and effects of the specific disasters, where on the planet the disasters happen, scientific research, disaster prediction and preparedness, government involvement with respect to new building rules and regulations, and relief efforts. One common thread running through the series is the role that global warming is playing in each of these devastating events. For example, the California wildfire season has increased by 78 days since the 1970s. Additional text boxes provide information about the victims (humans, animals, buildings, infrastructure and entire towns) lost or affected by these tragedies.
Much of what is found in the main body of the text is available in other books, but what makes this series compelling is the first person narrative of (fictional) boys and girls from various parts of the world. Their “recollections” convey the panic they experienced as they and their families tried to flee their homes, find shelter and locate lost relatives, and their sadness over the loss of friends, family, and their homes and villages. For some, the damage to their sense of safety and security will never be repaired. The text is enhanced with abundant colour photographs, maps, diagrams, sketches and satellite images. (A free downloadable teacher’s guide is available, but the activities mainly involve basic recall and presenting facts to the class.)
Floods are some of the deadliest natural disasters and cause more than $40 billion damage per year worldwide. In fact, flash floods kill more people than any type of natural disaster. Surviving the Flood: Hear My Story tells of Lan whose family living in Xingtai, China, was forced to spend the night on the roof to escape flood waters. Though Lan’s story ends more happily than most, she is quick to criticize the government for its deception in revealing the true cause of the flood and the number of casualties and for not doing enough to help the people. Besides the usual topics, such as causes and types of floods, this title also discusses flood “seasons”, flood-warning technology, and ways in which cities can protect their citizens, some examples of which are building flood relief channels, levees and floodgates. It is interesting for readers to note that there is a benefit to flooding – the deposit of silt which is full of nutrients for growing crops.
Informative and educational, the “Disaster Diaries” series’ combination of facts and personal recollections proves that two is sometimes better than one.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.