Floods are natural and normal phenomena. They are catastrophic simply because man occupies the flood plain, the highwater channel of a river. Man occupies flood plains because it is convenient and profitable to do so, but he must purchase his occupancy at a price-either sustain flood damage, or provide flood-control facilities. Although large sums of money have been, and are being, spent for flood control, flood damage continues to mount. However, neither complete flood control nor abandonment of the flood plain is practicable. Flood plains are a valuable resource and will continue to be occupied, but the nature and degree of occupancy should be compatible with the risk involved and with the degree of protection that is practicable to provide. It is primarily to meet the needs for defining the risk that the flood-inundation maps of the U.S. Geological Survey are prepared.