Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2163–2179, 2017

Special issue: Damage of natural hazards: assessment and mitigation

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2163–2179, 2017

Research article 06 Dec 2017

Research article | 06 Dec 2017

Damage assessment in Braunsbach 2016: data collection and analysis for an improved understanding of damaging processes during flash floods

Jonas Laudan1, Viktor Rözer2, Tobias Sieg1,2, Kristin Vogel1, and Annegret H. Thieken1 Jonas Laudan et al.
  • 1University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24–25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Department of Hydrology, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Flash floods are caused by intense rainfall events and represent an insufficiently understood phenomenon in Germany. As a result of higher precipitation intensities, flash floods might occur more frequently in future. In combination with changing land use patterns and urbanisation, damage mitigation, insurance and risk management in flash-flood-prone regions are becoming increasingly important. However, a better understanding of damage caused by flash floods requires ex post collection of relevant but yet sparsely available information for research. At the end of May 2016, very high and concentrated rainfall intensities led to severe flash floods in several southern German municipalities. The small town of Braunsbach stood as a prime example of the devastating potential of such events. Eight to ten days after the flash flood event, damage assessment and data collection were conducted in Braunsbach by investigating all affected buildings and their surroundings. To record and store the data on site, the open-source software bundle KoBoCollect was used as an efficient and easy way to gather information. Since the damage driving factors of flash floods are expected to differ from those of riverine flooding, a post-hoc data analysis was performed, aiming to identify the influence of flood processes and building attributes on damage grades, which reflect the extent of structural damage. Data analyses include the application of random forest, a random general linear model and multinomial logistic regression as well as the construction of a local impact map to reveal influences on the damage grades. Further, a Spearman's Rho correlation matrix was calculated. The results reveal that the damage driving factors of flash floods differ from those of riverine floods to a certain extent. The exposition of a building in flow direction shows an especially strong correlation with the damage grade and has a high predictive power within the constructed damage models. Additionally, the results suggest that building materials as well as various building aspects, such as the existence of a shop window and the surroundings, might have an effect on the resulting damage. To verify and confirm the outcomes as well as to support future mitigation strategies, risk management and planning, more comprehensive and systematic data collection is necessary.

Short summary
The flash flood in Braunsbach, Germany, in May 2016 was a severe and rather unfamiliar event which caused high monetary losses and heavy damage to buildings. Between 7 and 8 June we investigated all affected houses and conducted damage assessment to gain insights into the damage driving factors of those events. We conclude that the damage driving factors are complex and also differ partly from those of riverine floods, pointing out the need for further research.
Final-revised paper