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I know the meaning of “flooded” as in “covered with water”, but what is the meaning here?

Over 200 students from all over the state flooded the helpline calls on the first day of its launch.

How was “flooded” used here?

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It's not referring to people, it's referring to calls. –  Kris May 14 '12 at 7:46
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4 Answers

The sentence is more likely to be:

Over 200 students from all over the state flooded the helpline with calls on the day of its launch.

There were suddenly a large number of incoming calls -- it was as if there was a flood of calls. The word 'flood' is used here in a figurative sense: a sudden, large in-rush resembling a flood.

We say something is 'flooded with' -- so with is required. Also, the first day is 'the day of launch', so the word first is incorrect -- there can be only one day of launch.

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Good point about "the first day of its launch" being redundant. The OP could reword the sentence so that with wasn't needed by making the calls do the flooding: "Calls from more than 200 students from all over the state flooded the helpline on the day of its launch." –  JLG May 13 '12 at 18:37
    
I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned metaphor in any of these answers. –  Jim May 13 '12 at 18:44
    
@JLG The OP was obviously quoting from a source. He might have partly misquoted, though -- dropping the 'with'. –  Kris May 13 '12 at 18:48
    
@Jim I deliberately avoided 'metaphor', saying 'figurative' instead. 'Flood' has become so widely used this way, we are constantly flooded with all kinds of things but water. On the other hand, an avalanche, a deluge or the like would certainly be a metaphor. Just my thoughts. –  Kris May 13 '12 at 19:04
    
@Jim SF in his answer thinks "... flood doesn't have to consist of water." :-) –  Kris May 13 '12 at 19:21
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The line got covered with students.

over 200 students from all over the state overwhelmed the helpline with calls on the first day of its launch.

It means use far beyond normal capacity. Too many askers, too few people to answer the calls on the helpline. This is often used in context of "the crowd flooded in", or "we flooded the senator's office with letters" - the flood doesn't have to consist of water.

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Do you mean, "Too many askers, too few people to answer the calls..."? –  JLG May 13 '12 at 18:38
    
@JLG He means too many callers, too many to answer (to). Even I had to do a double take before noting that too many in both places is correct. Just the wording is awkward. –  Kris May 13 '12 at 19:28
    
@JLG: Thanks. Kris: Not really, I just made a mistake. –  SF. May 14 '12 at 7:59
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Over 200 students from all over the state flooded the helpline calls on the first day of its launch.

Here, "flooded" refers to the fact that the telephone lines were swarmed by too many people, i.e., over 200 (in your particular case). Flooded is used to emphasize "too many in number". So it can also be interpreted as:

Too many (200 in your case) students from all over the state flooded the helpline calls on the first day of its launch.

It is "too many" because such a large number (200 here) was not expected.

Another example:

The mall was flooded by people during new year sale.

This is similar to:

The mall was crowded by people during new year sale.

Also same as:

The mall was swarmed by people during new year sale.

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As SF stated it means a large amount of people, but it is used to mean the movement of the people. A flood refers to movement, so a sudden surge of people into a room would be considered a "flood" of people.

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