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Keywords:

  • flood warning;
  • public understanding;
  • behavioural response;
  • effective response;
  • styles of learning

Abstract

Drawing on evidence from the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, this paper explores how people have responded to flood warning information and how these responses impact upon the effectiveness of a flood warning through saving lives and injuries, and reducing economic damages. Methods of flood warning that the public rely upon are discussed alongside empirical evidence of how flood victims prepare for, and respond to, flood warnings in rapid to medium-onset floods. The paper investigates why some members of the public fail to act appropriately, or most effectively, to flood warning information, touching on ideas of a lack of understanding, mistrust in authority and a lack of ownership of flood reducing actions. The paper examines the styles of public learning about flood warning response which might be most appropriate and effective, and how recent positive steps to increase the public's understanding of effective response might be further enhanced in the United Kingdom. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society