Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2271–2282, 2012

Special issue: Flood resilient communities – managing the consequences...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2271–2282, 2012

Research article 20 Jul 2012

Research article | 20 Jul 2012

Enhancing flood resilience through improved risk communications

J. J. O'Sullivan1, R. A. Bradford1, M. Bonaiuto2, S. De Dominicis2, P. Rotko3, J. Aaltonen3, K. Waylen4, and S. J. Langan4 J. J. O'Sullivan et al.
  • 1School of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland
  • 2Centro Interuniversitario di Ricerca in Psicologia Ambientale and Dipartimento di Psicologia dei Processi di Sviluppo e Socializzazione, Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy
  • 3Suomen ympäristökeskus (Finnish Environment Institute), Helsinki, Finland
  • 4The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland

Abstract. A framework of guiding recommendations for effective pre-flood and flood warning communications derived from the URFlood project (2nd ERA-Net CRUE Research Funding Initiative) from extensive quantitative and qualitative research in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Scotland is presented. Eleven case studies in fluvial, pluvial, coastal, residual and "new" flood risk locations were undertaken. The recommendations were developed from questionnaire surveys by exploring statistical correlations of actions and understandings of individuals in flood risk situations to low, moderate and high resilience groupings. Groupings were based on a conceptual relationship of self-assessed levels of awareness, preparedness and worry. Focus groups and structured interviews were used to discuss barriers in flood communications, explore implementation of the recommendations and to rank the recommendations in order of perceived importance. Results indicate that the information deficit model for flood communications that relies on the provision of more and better information to mitigate risk in flood-prone areas is insufficient, and that the communications process is very much multi-dimensional. The recommendations are aimed at addressing this complexity and their careful implementation is likely to improve the penetration of flood communications. The recommendations are applicable to other risks and are transferrable to jurisdictions beyond the project countries.