My son had to do a book report for school on 'Escaping the Giant Wave'. He decided to make a board game out of it for his presentation. It's basically a re-themed version of The Downfall of Pompeii.
In the book, the the people in the town are trying to escape from a tsunami by running to the hills. But there are also buildings that are on fire. In his game, instead of just lava like in Pompeii, there is water and fire. The water spreads more quickly than the fire, so you place 2 water tiles on your turn, instead of just 1.
For the setup, he uses a standard deck of cards with the queens and 3 of the kings taken out. There are no relative rules, you just draw a card and place your guy on the corresponding building. The Jacks are 'disaster' cards and work like Omen cards. Instead of tossing guys into a volcano, he has a blue cup for the ocean (although people that get caught in fire are also tossed into the ocean cup).
He worked quite hard on this game. I playtested with him and he kept tweaking the rules until he was happy with them. Then he spent several hours yesterday working on his presentation for the class.
When I was in middle school and we were studying colonial America, one of our options for a final project was to create a board game themed around colonization. I went with roll and move, like 99% of students would. Major kudos to your son for his excellent work here. The (sadly unemployed) teacher in me wishes your kid was my student.