A flood, according to the dictionary, is a great flowing or overflowing of water, especially over land not usually submerged. Floods are a natural occurrence. Violent thunderstorms pour massive amounts of water down on a town or city. When the ground is saturated, the water just stays on top, and you might need to live on your roof or boat—if you have one—for a while.
You could use just an ordinary flood of water in your story. Things that happen during this flood could be the answer to a mystery, stop the aliens from invasion, halt the monsters dead in their tracks. But why not make your flood even more interesting?
Not all floods are water based. Anything liquid can flood the streets of a city. What causes this flood can be as interesting as what happens during the flood. Any of the floods in history could be used as a backdrop to your story, or you could create a new flood of your own.
Baked Tapioca Flood – If the fire hadn’t been put out when it was, Cardiff would have been flooded with watery baked tapioca. Can you imagine baked tapioca oozing through the streets?
In Cardiff, Wales, in 1972, a tanker anchored in Cardiff Bay that was carrying 1500 pounds of tapioca. But the ship caught fire. It was sprayed with water to put out the fire, but this water ran down to where the tapioca was stored. Because of the heat and the water, the tapioca swelled, threatening to burst free of its prison. Before that happened though, the fire was put out, and the people of Cardiff were saved from being dowsed with tapioca.
Writing prompt: What if tapioca pudding loaded on the ship had exploded? Maybe your character was one of those trying to put out the fire. Maybe your character worked on this ship, or maybe your character was in the crowd of people watching what was going on.
For a children’s story, everyone in Cardiff would benefit from an explosion of tapioca pudding. Every resident would receive a sizable portion of tapioca pudding recovered from this explosion.
Boston Molasses Flood – A flood of baked tapioca would be bad enough, but what about a flood of sweet, sticky molasses?
If you happened to be in Boston on January 15, 1919, it is a day you will never forget. Even those who weren’t there can on warm days still smell the molasses that covered the streets.
The Purity Distilling Company had a huge tank almost completely full of molasses. The fifty-foot tall tank could hold 2.5 million gallons of the sweet stuff, and it had recently had 2.3 million gallons of Puerto Rican molasses pumped into it. That might have been a mistake.
Sounds like gunfire filled the air as the tank popped apart, and a wave of molasses flooded the streets. Although molasses itself is sweet, the wave of it surging down the streets was deadly and destructive. Buildings were torn from their foundations. People and animals drowned in a sweet and sticky hell. Rescuers had a difficult time wading through the thick waist-deep stickiness to reach the unfortunate ones stranded in it.
London Beer Flood – Can you imagine looking up and seeing a tidal wave of beer headed your way? Once you got over the shock, what would you do? Would you run and grab a pitcher to recover as much of the beer as you could? Or would you do the smart thing and run for cover?
On October 17, 1814, the streets and houses of St. Giles, London, a poverty-stricken area of the city, was flooded with beer. How had this happened? An iron ring around a huge vat of beer in the Meux and Company Brewery popped. This huge vat held as much beer as 3,500 barrels would hold. The one iron ring snapping led to the other rings on the barrel snapping, which led to other large vats rupturing. A total of more than 320,000 gallons of beer was released into a densely populated slum area of London that was populated by criminals and prostitutes.
Houses were destroyed, and people were killed—one article says seven were killed, another eight—by this 15-foot wave of beer.
The courts ruled that this disaster was an Act of God; therefore, no one was held responsible. It did lead to the replacement of wooden fermentation casks with lined concrete vats.
Octopus-Caused Flood – Apparently, in February of 2009, the two-spotted octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium came to a decision. She wanted to be free. Remember Nemo, and how he and his friends plotted to find a way out of the fish bowl that kept their freedom from them? Well, the octopus, even though the “cage” that contained her was much larger, decided that she no longer wanted to be confined. She tugged on a valve that allowed hundreds of gallons of water to overflow her tank. She didn’t escape her tank, but I’m sure she had fun watching the two-legged creatures who lived outside clean up the mess she made caused. No sea creatures or people were harmed by this incident.
Pig Manure Flood – Are you grossed out just from the name of this flood? Be thankful you weren’t in the German village of Elsa in February 2006. A tank filled with pig manure that had been liquefied for use as fertilizer burst open and released 52,800 gallons of stinky yuck into the streets and homes of the unlucky village.
Basically, any substance that isn’t completely solid, no matter how thick, could be used for a flood.
Choose one of the above floods and investigate it further. Once you have done that, base a story on it.
Tell your story from the viewpoint of a child. What goes through the child’s mind? How scared is the child?
Or you might choose to tell the story from the viewpoint of an adult, one who is shocked when the floodwaters are seen coming towards him or her.
What if the adult whose viewpoint you are telling the story from is one who first saw the flood?
Try telling your story from the viewpoint of an animal. How does the animal react? Does this animal pull anyone from the flood and save them?
Create an unusual flood of your own. What will it be? Wine? Tea? Pancake syrup? Brownie dough? Once you have created your own unique and unusual flood, write a story around it. Remember, no flood is too strange.