You attack with the stuff that makes up 60% of your body mass, covers 70% of the Earth's surface, and falls from the sky on an regular basis: water. Just plain old reliable water. It may not scream "explosive devastation" like fire and lightning does, but you can't trump water's versatility and availability. Flood 'em, drown 'em, frost 'em, steam 'em, wash 'em, whatever. And no, we don't use that water to heal someone, that's for the White Mage. Use it to kill someone!
Many philosophers, like Lao Tzu above, wax poetic far beyond Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness about how nothing in the world is weaker and more malleable than water, and yet water wears away the hard and strong. The mountain stands tall and proud, but the sea will eventually grind it to sand. Water always, always, alwayswins in the end.
A water controller's biggest weakness is that they usually must be in the vicinity of water to be effective. Not a problem in a modern city if they can affect underground plumbing, but if it's not raining and they're nowhere near a source of water, they might be SOL. It's very rarely addressed that they could just sap the water directly from a person's body, killing or weakening them instantly, but this could be an issue of dramatic license, since that would result in some very short and uninteresting fight scenes.
There are also beings like Marvel Comics' Hydro-Man and Darkwing Duck's Liquidator, who are sentient masses of water. Beating them can be tough as bullets and fists can simply punch through them to no effect while energy weapons' beams can be scattered though the substance. Furthermore, they usually change their shape at will, pass through anything that is not watertight and hit with concentrated blasts of their own mass. However, there are ways of defeating them: you can freeze them, you can evaporate them, you can make them lose cohesion by hitting them with electricity to induce electrolysis, or you can contaminate their bodies with a solidifying material, like cement or bake mix, to immobilize them.
Water is also required for Super Drowning Skills and Hazardous Water.
In most cases, this power beatsPlaying with Fire. A Sub Trope of sorts is An Ice Person; both can be very dangerous indeed, if the two are combined. See Kill It with Water for cases where this is Super Effective. Soft Water may still be in effect — you just drown 'em. Often, Water is Blue.
If you came here looking for Splash Damage tropes, you would do well to go to Splash Damage Abuse, and to Shockwave Stomp for situations where the stomp isn't purely decorative).
May overlap with Elemental Shapeshifter.
A Sub Trope of Elemental Powers.
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Anime and Manga
According to the video games, Bleach's Jushiro Ukitake's Zanpakutou is water-based (the only power it's been shown with in the actual manga so far is absorbing and redirecting energy attacks). Whether it is actually water-based is unknown, but its release command ("All waves, rise now and become my shield! Lightning, strike now and become my blade!") and translated name ("Law of the Twin Fish") strongly suggests that it is. His former lieutenant Kaien Shiba's Zanpakuto, Nejibana, is 100% water based.
There were some Bount twins in the anime arc that used water-based dolls. In a twist that one expects to happen more, they usually created masses of water around the target's head to drown them instead of, say, sweep them away with a torrent. And just to make things as difficult as possible for Ichigo and the others, it was raining when the twins attacked, neutralizing the Elemental Baggage and taking the threat level Up to Eleven.
In the Fake Karukura Town arc, Lieutenant Hisagi fought against a Fracción that used high-pressure water to attack.
Also, the Third Espada, Tier Harribel, when she uses Resurrección.
In the manga/anime X1999, Dragon of Earth Yuto Kigai is a water master, able to summon floods and hurl water bolts.
Air Gear has Om the Water Queen and Orca, both of whom use water in the form of bubbles.
Any water-based jutsu users in Naruto, including the Second Hokage and the entire Hidden Mist Village (most notably Zabuza and Kisame). It can be combined with Wind to create Ice, Fire to create Acid, Lightning to make Storm (a quasi-Light attack), and Earth to make Wood.
Special mention goes to Suigetsu, who can apply his power to turn his body into water in all sorts of creative ways; it's a special ability of his clan.
In the "Big Trouble in Nekonron, China" Ranma ˝ movie, Ranma was able to punch the water spurts coming from the geysers around them in order to create steaming hot water projectiles that could hit his opponent, no matter what his defenses.
In what is arguably Cologne's personal Crowning Moment of Awesome, very early on, she was able to blast seawater at Ranma in the shape of a great white shark. This, after effortlessly whirling her staff while underwater to create a massive waterspout.
The Watery from Cardcaptor Sakura. There's another card called The Rain (though the main threat presented by it is that it was making The Wood grow out of control. It could still chase you around and drench you, though.)
As well, the antagonist of the first movie utilizes water-based powers.
Mitarai "Seaman" Kiyoshi of YuYu Hakusho has the ability to animate water to attack people with by mixing his blood in it.
One of the enemies that Taikoubou faced in Senkaiden Houshin Engi has a paopei (magic artifact) that controls water. She used it to summon a megatsunami in the desert, create a sticky water dome, and waterspouts. And oh, yes, she did use it to try drowning Taikoubou by creating a permanent, inescapable water bubble just large enough to engulf his head.
Another used it more epicly. Fugen Shinjin (a deliberate expy of Kaworu Nagisa) controls atoms with his paopei. He warns his enemies before blasting them. He used light water mist as the first warning, sharp ice formations as his last warning, and when it didn't work, he used the hydrogen atoms to create deuterium and tritium and initiate a nuclear fusion reaction instantly. Cue Stuff Blowing Up.
In Flame of Recca, Mikagami Tokiya uses a water sword, which he can form whenever there's a water source. His water-based power works well against Recca's flame powers, but during the rematch, Recca amplified his flame powers so that the water boiled to steam, nullifying the effect. Note that the water around the sword is finite (meaning he needs another water source to "recharge"), while Recca's flame is infinite.
It should be noted that he can make his sword even stronger simply by absorbing more water. Hell, before one early battle, he absorbs all the water from an entire olympic-sized swimming pool, for crying out loud.
Also, once, when his sword had its water removed or something, he used his own blood to reactivate it.
In BattleAngelAlita, one of the enemies Alita fights uses a molecule-thin stream of water fired at supersonic speeds. It cuts through steel with shocking ease.
Hajime, the Leafe Knight of Water, from Pretear; and it's just water — the reason he doesn't have powers over ice is because these are handled by his buddy, Mannen.
Shizuku, aka Snake girl loli, from Omamori Himari. Seeing as how her family of mizuchi were worshiped as water gods before their extermination and their traditional depictions, it makes sense.
Wagaya No Oinari Sama has Kou, a miko whose impressive hydrokinetic powers are a result of a water dragon god ("Mizuchi"} sealed within her body.
Suzumiya Haruhi: With Haruhi subconsciously blurring the line between reality and her movie, one of the devastating abilities Mikuru's toy guns take on is recoillessly firing terrifically-powerful blasts of water.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's first episode introduced (and promptly killed) Isaac MacDougall, the Freezing Alchemist. Don't let his title fool you, though. The Freezer uses water for everything, from ice-based weaponry to high pressure cutting tools, and can kill you by either flash freezing or boiling all the water in your body. This is a guy who definitely knows how to Kill It with Water.
While no one with the ability to remotely manipulate water has shown up in One Piece yet, many of the Fishmen do it the old fashion way - by hand. Arlong could fling water with the force of a bullet, while his archerfish underling Chew could spit water with the power of a cannon or the speed of a machine gun. Standing above both of them is the whale shark Jinbe, whose mastery of Fishman Karate lets him manipulate water like cloth, manually throwing waves or lances of water that can blast through battleships at his opponents.
It turns out that this is the principle to Fishman Karate. By controlling all the water around them, as well in the atmosphere and even in the bodies of living things, Jinbe is able to hurt even Luffy.
Merfolk have their own version of Fishman Karate called Merman Combat, although it seems to be a lot more basic than Fishman Karate.
Mew Lettuce of Tokyo Mew Mew can control water and breathe underwater. She doesn't use the latter ability much, however.
Archangel Gabriel's dominion in To Aru Majutsu no Index is water, first shown when it accidentally falls down from heaven due to an accidental spellcasting. Later on, we are introduced to Acqua of the Back of God's Right Seat, who is aligned to Archangel Gabriel and thus the most powerful water magician in the series.
The Hayagami of Yorunami from Arata Kangatari uses water as its primary power.
Morino Mizuki from Popcorn Avatar, the incarnation of the Water Deva Varna, gives her avatar and close friend Sanae water-based abilities.
Aquaman himself doesn't have any abilities that influence water itself, per se, but his wife, Mera, could control it to the point of a Green Lantern Ring, as could the destructive denizen of Sub Diego, the Eel.
...and don't forget his little buddy Aqualad, currently Tempest, whose magic powers grant him elemental control over water.
Silver Age Aquaman did have the ability to gather seawater into a hard ball and hurl it at his underwater foes. It could knock them off their seahorses.
Not to mention Aquaman when equipped with the Hand of the Waterbearer had some fairly high level hydrokinesis abilities.
New 52 Ocean Master has a helmet that allows him control over water.
Marvel Comics villains Hydro-Man (who is basically made of water in a similar way to Sandman with sand and usually uses his powers to produce flash floods) and Water Wizard/Aqueduct (who can control liquid in any form). Despite his big-league powers, Water Wizard is an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who was once spared a gruesome death when his Volkswagen's tire blew out and later surrendered to the police because he was afraid of a vigilante targeting losers like him.
The Ultimate version of Namor also displayed water controlling abilities.
New Wave, a villainess in The DCU who can transform her body into any form of water, including steam and acid rain.
Bill Willingham's The Elementals had Fathom, who could shoot, control, turn into, or breathe water (and the vampires of that 'Verse were the water-killed variety too). The newer but unrelated Top CowFathom is part of a whole race with similar powers.
In With Strings Attached, John gains complete control over water, thanks to the magical Kansael that embedded itself in his chest. Being an Actual Pacifist, he doesn't do much more than play with it (though he did some pretty heavy-duty undead ass-kicking in the Plains of Death), but in several places, it's implied that he could be incredibly scary if he did some of the things the Kansael suggested to him. He seems to have some degree of control over the weather as well.
In the Doctor Who episode "The Waters of Mars", a flood of water controlling viruses from the planet Mars infected the water supply of a human base. In a rare example, they could take over a human's body, making them akin to zombies.
Water Lily, aka Jane Doe, in Wild Cards is able to control water in lethal ways. She once sucks out the water out of a person.
There was a short Sci-Fi story where a worker at a salvage yard used a portable Water Jet Cutter to dismember his attacker.
The Fantasy trilogy Chronicles of the Raven has a wonderful example where three dimensional mages open a gate to a dimension made entirely of water and use it to flood a whole valley of invaders.
Watercrafters in Codex Alera may be better known for being healers and Empaths, but they can also drown you on dry land if you piss them off. They can also control water, though not to the same dramatic effect as earthcrafters or firecrafters with their respective elements. They also look much younger than they really are, as a side effect of their healing prowess, and specialist watercrafters known as "witchmen" also use their talents to keep powerful ocean beasts from detecting their ships as they pass over.
Percy Jackson is born with this ability, being the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea (who is presented in a much more favorable light in the books than the myths, but then, so is everyone else).
In the Star Trek Novel Verse, the aquatic Alonis do not possess opposable digits. In order to build a civilization, they instead use their limited but effective telekinetic control over water. They essentially "shape" the water into "tools". The exact limit on the ability has not been determined (yet) but, possibly, it depends on the individual.
In the Dresden Files, Warden Carlos Ramirez is one of the few water mages who takes advantage of water's ability to dissolve and erode. His shielding spell turns a hail of bullets into lead powder (and turns a ghoul that tries to force its way through into ghoul-ade) and his primary offense is a blast of disintegrating green light.
The Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey has several Water Masters/mages, the main ones being Peter Scott (The Serpent's Shadow), Lord Peter Almsley (Unnatural Issue and The Serpent's Shadow), Marina Roeswood (The Gates of Sleep) and Mari Prothero (Home from the Sea).
In Shadow Ops, hydromancers can control water. They can also either heat up or cool down water, allowing them to generate ice or steam as needed, which makes them useful as medics for burn victims, or as breachers for knocking down doors or walls.
Jesus from the Bible takes this Up to Eleven. Not only can he control the entire ocean and all its storms, he can also turn water into wine.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has the twins learn this Magic in the third book from Gilgamesh and it is the first element that they both learn together. Excalibur also gets upgraded to the sword of Ice/Water.
The Quest Of The Unaligned features the shamais, who in addition to literal power over water also possess the power to influence minds "like water wearing down a rock" and are noted for being extremely hidebound and traditionalistic, much like water follows the channels it has worn for itself.
Myth And Legend
Flood myths are pretty common. Gilgamesh goes to find the survivors of the Flood, who has been granted immortality.
Incidentally, he's also a god of earthquakes. So he doesn't just kill you with water.
Many other gods, obviously, both of the sea and freshwater bodies. Examples include Oceanus (also from Classical Mythology), Mannan Mac Lir, Njord, and Sobek, as well as the many kinds of nymphs and fairies and the like.
A student mage in the Kamigawa novels tries to explain the strength of water by talking about the strength of a tsunami breaking apart a ship.
A few Dungeons & Dragons monsters and prestige classes get in on this, particularly water elementals, water-based Elemental Savants, and Wavekeepers. There's also a species of aberration in the Pathfinder setting that's damaged by salt water.
Rifts features an optional (and somewhat underwhelming) Psychic Character class called the Soaker, a character with hydrokinetic powers.
Exalted: Water Aspect Dragon-Bloods can do this a bit, and their equivalents, the Water Ryuujin from the shard Burn Legend, do this virtually all the time, to the extent of getting damage and clash bonuses when near a full bathtub, fire sprinkler, or other source of water.
Nobilis: take Water, Floods, Rivers, Streams, Oceans or anything along those lines as your Estate, then buy the rest of your Familia some floaties.
The Water Element in Bionicle. One example of use is Gali, a Toa of Water, who has literally killed therealm of Karzahni with a massive flood attack after evacuating all the traumatized Matoran.
Don't forget the tidal wave she summoned against Icarax when he pissed her off...
That was the same incident. Icarax beat down the five other members of Gali's team, and when he started gloating on top of that, she took the opportunity to charge up her Nova Blast. That is, she drew in every bit of moisture within a radius of several kilometers, then unleashed it all as a giant tidal wave. Icarax escaped with the MacGuffin because Gali couldn't control the wave well enough to wring it from his grasp (most likely due to already having spent all her elemental energy on creating the wave in the first place), but at least the six Toa survived.
Okami has Nuregami, a snake goddess who gives you the Waterspout Brush.
Water-type Pokémon, with attacks like Water Gun, Surf, and Hydro Pump. In keeping with the frequent subtrope of water-based attackers also being able to use ice-based attacks, almost all Water-type Pokémon can also learn Ice-type attacks like Ice Beam and Blizzard.
Water-type specialty Trainers include Misty, Wallace, Juan, Crasher Wake, Cress and Marlon.
One of the available starters for any generation of Pokémon games is always a Water-type. They are generally very useful in the early game - in three of the five generations, the first Gym Leader is a Rock-type specialist - but not so much against the Elite Four/Champion.
Robot Masters Wave Man and Aqua Man from the Mega Man series. Toad Man summons a screen-filling acid rain attack. Pump Man creates a shield out of globes of water and can throw them out. Oddly enough, Splash Woman doesn't fit this, as her weapon is the armor-piercing Laser Trident.
Stardroid Neptune yields the Salt Water weapon, allowing Mega Man to short out and corrode robots with globs of ionised saline solution.
Also, Bubble Man in II.
From the Mega Man X series, we have Bubble Crab from X2, Rainy Turtloid from X6, and Splash Warfly from X7. Launch Octopus and Jet Stingray also utilize whirlpools to suck X (and Zero for the latter) in.
Cagnazzo the Drowned King of Final Fantasy IV. When he gathers water for his Tsunami attack, he can absorb ice attacks (but zap him with a Thunder spell and he won't be able to use it). In the DS version, Tsunami has a chance of killing your party members instantly, regardless of HP. Oh, and you can get said Tsunami as an Augment move after beating the boss.
In later installments, player characters can learn various Water spells, from the high-pressure Aqua Rake to the Tsunami and Clean Sweep spells; Summoners can even call Leviathan and other summoned monsters to deliver such water-elemental attacks.
Frog of Chrono Trigger. Being a, well, frog, Spekkio gave him Water magic.
Ice is not considered its own element in the game, and so all ice attacks do water damage (which means that Marle, who is the healer/ice user of the team, is given a water element).
The blue innate in Chrono Cross encompasses both water and ice, similar to Chrono Trigger. Any character can equip blue Elements to use in battle. Irenes, a mermaid, is the only character who uses water in her special attacks.
One of the more powerful attacks for the flamethrower in Makai Kingdom is a torrent of water that also pushes the victim a long distance.
Water is finally treated as its own element in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], though it can only be inflicted by Water-Dream Eater links. The "Balloon" line of spells are commonly mistaken to be Water as well due to confusion stemming from the bonus it gives to Dream Eaters (it adds Water resistance) but a quick glance at a Dream Eater's movelist that can use Balloon suggests it is neutral instead.
Lots of dams get destroyed over the course of the Command & Conquer: Generals campaigns. Half the time, you're the one doing it, half the time, you... umm... get wet.
The Chrono Cryo soldiers cleanse with water. By freezing their enemies to death.
The Bubble Bobble games have water-filled bubbles which can be used to rinse down enemies. It can also stun the protagonists while they're being pulled with the current.
Frost Mages in World of Warcraft have the ability to summon water elementals (not ice, for some reason) to fight by their side for a little while. Shamans also use water to restore their mana and help them heal. The graphic of their final healing spell, Riptide, looks pretty much like you just dumped a bucket of water on the target.
Probably related to the fact that they were the Summon Magic of Alliance Mages in Warcraft III and of Conjurers in Warcraft I. Ice elementals are also extremely rare, being the result of conflict between the elemental lords of air and water.
Also, a few select NPCs are also able to cast Waterbolts, Tsunamis, or water geysers that hurl the opponent into the air.
Water is the element of the Shadow Hearts characters Margarete (first game), Anastasia (Covenant), and Mao (From The New World). This applies more to their physical attacks than their magic, due to the second two games using Powers as Programs.
Kraken from Heroes Of Newerth uses this trope: his abilities include tsunami-powered running, summoning whirlpools, and actually making a splash, with which he delivers splash damage to everyone around his target.
Let's not forget resident kappa Nitori Kawashiro, with the power to control water.
There's also Patchouli Knowledge, who has it as one of the 7 elements she uses, and Suwako Moriya, who has a few water-based attacks (mainly in the fighting games, which is why the term spellcard is not used - she has a water based spellcard in her first appearance, though.)
From Dust allows the player to pull water from the sea, lakes, rivers or even puddles, morph it into a ball, and hurl it about. Whether you're using it to install a water feature, combat a forest fire, or flood a village is up to you, however...
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has Morpha, the boss of the Water Temple. Morpha is a giant amoeba that can create tentacles with the water it resides in. These tentacles are capable of striking and even grabbing and throwing Link. Though Navi does mention that the "water" Morpha inhabits is not normal water.
In Beyond The Canopy, Cascadian foot soldiers are trained in this. Which is odd, because they live in a desert. They carry water—with explosive fish inside—on their shoulders to shape into weapons.
In Pacificators, Larima is an Elite-ranked Pacificator of water (the rank Elite is the highest possible). She's so good at her power of water, she's also An Ice Person. The renegade Tiamat is one as well.
Wayward Sons: Saiden. He can control its state of matter too, allowing him to form his weapon of choice, a trident, out of ice. He can even move a fleet of ships around, though he runs the risk of passing out from exhaustion when he does so.
Whateley Universe examples: Riptide, the girlfriend of protagonist Chaka, and Aquamaster of the West Coast League.
Strangely, only Sabella in Trinton Chronicles has any water-based powers. She also has one ability that she tends to mix with her hydroblasts to make them especially deadly. Aside from her liquid control, she also has the added gift of freezing water.
Water Human. He can attack people with masses of water, apparently has a prospensity for sitting in water for no reason, and may very well be an Elemental Embodiment, actually (his skin is revealed to actually be blue in the final episode).
In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, there's Vulnapyezdka ("Wave Rider" in Russian), who can turn into water, blast it from his hands, and survive underwater; Saraswati, an Indian superheroine who cannot generate water, but can telekinetically manipulate water in the environment (including pulling it out of a human body, if absolutely necessary); River, another Whatevermancer. Archdruid could control water telekinetically as well, as part of his overall control of the four classic elements. Maelstrom and Typhoon, who both could generate and control storms, could exercise some control over water, but their use of this power wasn't very precise, to say the least.
In Elemental, the element of water goes to Nachtis, symbolized by internal shifting and change, just like his element.
Waterbenders in Avatar The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra tend both toward this and the White Mage version. Water can be used for healing along with manipulation of chi flow, but in its attack forms, it's used as a malleable weapon (wall-of-water ram, razor-whip, ensaring tendrils). Waterbending also involves solidifying shapes as ice and, in rare cases, it can be leeched from surrounding plants, and creatures can be physically manipulated through their blood.
Speaking of Aquaman, in his own animated series, he could toss high-pressure concussive water balls, a power which has since been adapted into several animated, live-action, and comics versions of the character.
Subverted in Winx Club: while Aisha comes from an ocean-based realm, and seems connected to water, her powers come from plasma, which appears in the show to be shiny, pink clay. This is very evident in the 4th season when, twice, the girls had to stop a housefire and Aisha could not use her powers to douse it. Her Sophix seems to give her this power, though.
It's later shown that this is the standard for Atlantean magic and that the powers Aqualad wields are actually a far more simple version. Atlanteans with fuller training have demonstrated making different shapes out of water, like manta rays as shields, octopi to make use of combat tentacles, and even an eel, to electrocute enemies.
Irma Lair of W.I.T.C.H. is this for the Guardians. She can control water, as well as create it seemingly from nowhere.
Water cannons, although they're primarily used to push people.
There are also the so-called "Disrupters" (not to be confused with the energy weapons from Star Trek), which fire water at extremely high speeds. Bomb defusing robots are equipped with these to short out the trigger mechanism of a bomb. Thanks to water creating no heat on impact, it normally doesn't trigger the explosive to go off.
Water pressure cutters, going as high as 50,000PSI to cut through thin sheets of things like titanium with pure dihydrogen monoxide. For thicknesses up to eight inches, an abrasive component is added, but it's still mostly water.
High pressure water (or other liquids) can also have a nasty effect on human flesh. This is particularly a problem for submarines and machinery that involved liquids at high pressure (engine fuel injection systems can be nasty in this respect), where a leak can cause serious injuries.
And when they need to take the paint off roads, they use sandblasting: high pressure water and sand.
As solvents go, water is pretty strong - lots of stuff dissolves in it. We don't notice because we're mostly made of stuff dissolved in water.
Given enough time, water can (and eventually will) do more damage to the landscape than any nuclear weapon ever created.
In the Tomorrow Land part of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, a fountain uses a high pressure stream of water (ascending over 250 feet into the air uncovered) to lift a one ton ball off its base, allowing an average six year old child to spin it with ease.
For a long time, the Netherlands' main form of defense was breaching one of their dykes near where the enemy was and watching them drown.
Sonoluminescence is the result of using ultrasonics to make water explode. Admittedly, the explosions are very tiny, but pistol shrimp use the effect to stun and sometimes kill small fish.
Look at natural disasters like floods and tsunamis. Water probably causes more damage overall than fire.
In hurricanes, it isn't the wind that kills people most of the time. It's the storm surge and the flash flooding. And afterwards, the infrastructure is messed up because of the flooding, leading to more deaths as vital services are cut off.
In floods, just 6 inches of water moving at just 4 miles per hour will destroy most houses in the path of the water.
In America, where "most houses" probably refers to "all wooden houses"*
And just about the only place where inches and miles are still used, which is a bit of a give-away
. In Europe, 15cm of water moving at 6.5km/h*
Same situation, converted
is mostly going to knock down (wooden) sheds. Houses in Europe, especially the older ones, tend to be either brick or stone, with most or all of the internal walls being as strong as the external ones. The worst case scenario is likely one face of the house being knocked down, with the rest of the house still standing(which happened sometimes when a dam broke under the pressure of several meters of water). The described situation will have water hit any exposed surface like a hammer, but bringing down masonry takes more than one such hit. On top of that, in the Netherlands at least, gardens(with hedges, shrubs and maybe a small tree) are generally preferred to lawns, which absorbs a surprising amount of energy from an incoming wave(see mangroves for a large-scale version of this effect). The most likely result of a city being hit by such a flood would be streets becoming rivers and basements becoming pools. Lots of damage, but not to the structure of most houses.