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Flood risk reduction through natural retention and physical protection: Misplaced faith in mobileflood protection

Many people put faith in mobile flood protection, but these types of devices can only work under certain conditions. Believing that everything will ‘turn out fine’ if protection is put in place is a dangerous assumption. For mobile protection to work, sufficient lead time is needed, and information needs to be accurate enough to set up the right mobile protection systems. Placing trust in mobile protection means assuming nothing will go wrong in how and where these structures are installed. At the same time, however, relatively little is known about the conditions under which mobile flood protection measures fail, especially in catastrophe situations when the information flow may be disrupted and response teams are thin on the ground. In the end, mobile protection should be considered as protection of the last resort. These structures work only if many things come together: a well-established and frequently rehearsed flood emergency and contingency plan with clear roles and responsibilities. Natural protection, retention, and fixed structures offer much more reliable flood protection.

PERC Reports