to the president's resignation. Disaster experts classify floods according to their likelihood of occurring in a given time period. In China's Yellow River valley, where some of the world's worst floods have occurred, millions of people have perished in floods during the last century. In reality, this classification means there is a one-percent chance that such a flood could happen in any given year. We drifted in the river eating fresh grilled fish crusted with chunks of salt and lemon, and platters of rice and tomatoes.
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Strings of lights and tacky SweeTart-colored fluorescent bulbs blink and shimmer from thousands of boats crowded along the banks. I am Egyptian, thundered Dahab, after eating, and I must be near the river! We did nothing but listen and watch and doze. Excessive rain, a ruptured dam or levee, rapid ice melting in the mountains, or even an unfortunately placed beaver dam can overwhelm a river and send it spreading over the adjacent land, called a floodplain. Most common is when rivers or streams overflow their banks. At night in Cairo the Nile is like a ribbon of candy. When a river overflows its banks or the sea drives inland, structures poorly equipped to withstand the water's strength are no match. A hundred-year flood, for example, is an extremely large, destructive event that would theoretically be expected to happen only once every century. Without its replenishment and nourishment the great ancient civilizations would never have sprung forth. When floodwaters recede, affected areas are often blanketed in silt and mud.