Articles | Volume 13, issue 8
Research article
01 Aug 2013
Research article |  | 01 Aug 2013

Modelling the benefits of flood emergency management measures in reducing damages: a case study on Sondrio, Italy

D. Molinari, F. Ballio, and S. Menoni

Abstract. The European "Floods Directive" 2007/60/EU has produced an important shift from a traditional approach to flood risk management centred only on hazard analysis and forecast to a newer one which encompasses other aspects relevant to decision-making and which reflect recent research advances in both hydraulic engineering and social studies on disaster risk. This paper accordingly proposes a way of modelling the benefits of flood emergency management interventions calculating the possible damages by taking into account exposure, vulnerability, and expected damage reduction. The results of this model can be used to inform decisions and choices for the implementation of flood emergency management measures. A central role is played by expected damages, which are the direct and indirect consequence of the occurrence of floods in exposed and vulnerable urban systems. How damages should be defined and measured is a key question that this paper tries to address. The Floods Directive suggests that mitigation measures taken to reduce flood impact need to be evaluated also by means of a cost–benefit analysis. The paper presents a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of early warning for flash floods, considering its potential impact in reducing direct physical damage, and it assesses the general benefit in regard to other types of damages and losses compared with the emergency management costs. The methodology is applied to the case study area of the city of Sondrio in the northern Alpine region of Italy. A critical discussion follows the application. Its purpose is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of available models for quantifying direct physical damage and of the general model proposed, given the current state of the art in damage and loss assessment.