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Post-event measures: Exchanging information

Flood knowledge is an important asset. There must be an open exchange of information to allow people to better understand floods, and learn about the related hazards and risks, while providing increased risk awareness and insights into how they can protect themselves, On a scientific level, meteorological data, river gauge data and weather models, must be exchanged, including across borders, for example, between Germany and the Czech Republic, to provide full and real-time access to gauge data along the Elbe, to validate forecasts and improve accuracy so that different countries and international bodies can learn from each other. Instead of many different bodies modeling the same thing, the various authorities involved should work together to provide fewer, but better models. The scientific knowledge obtained then needs to be presented in ways that it can be understood by the general public. Campaigns are needed to educate people about hazards and risks. More education is also needed on ‘risk-averse’ behavior. This should include teaching in school to what extent the population is affected by natural perils such as hail, earthquakes, wind or floods. Understanding these risks should start early in school and be mandatory. Parents can learn from their children. They will listen if their children bring home interesting, relevant information presented in ways they can understand, and relate to their own lives. If children can understand it, their parents can. Zurich believes that all hazard-relevant information must be available in the public domain, not for sale or hidden and only available to specialists. Some experts compare public flood awareness to the flood hydrograph of a river – a significant peak during the height of a flood followed by a drop. This should not be the case. Having information available also helps to stimulate awareness when no flood is imminent. Flood maps, flood event analyses and related information needs to be on public webpages, distributed through brochures and even sent to households. Public meetings and talks by flood experts should encourage people to ask questions, learn more, and take an active role in future decisions affecting flood risk management and local protection strategies.

PERC Reports