Facing the risk of flooding

After the passage of a major natural disaster, the collective emotion pushes the victims to seek responsible and solutions. The demand for security is becoming more important. Measures are then implemented. But over time this demand diminishes because we “move on”.

The consequences of natural disasters are nevertheless very important. In fact, they caused $ 330 billion in damage last year, almost twice as much as 2016 globally. More than 9,500 people also died in natural disasters last year.

Source: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

In France, for example, the national insurance companies’ federation released in December 2015 a rather disturbing study. They predict a doubling by 2040 of the bill of compensation related to floods and drought.

The risk is also present because of the increase in natural disasters. Floods are indeed the biggest risk. So it is important to be aware of this risk in order to manage crisis situations.
1 in 4 French people and one in 3 jobs in France are today potentially exposed to floods. It’s the main national major risk in terms of the number of municipalities concerned and in term of economic costs’ of disasters.

The Aude in France is a department hard hit by the phenomenon of flooding.
It was hit in 1999 very importantly, 35 people were killed after this disaster, national plans were adopted and an improvement of the weather forecast was initiated to manage the risks and to better inform the population.
However, we note in particular after the more recent events that took place in the same region in 2018 that few inhabitants are informed of reflexes to be in case of flood. The knowledge of these good gestures to have can save lives so it is essential to master them well in order to reduce the danger, limit the harmful consequences.

Damages in Trèbes city in France after major floods in 2018

Being aware of the risk

Awareness is the only real way to protect oneself from natural disasters. It helps to control certain aspects of risk. So for evacuation procedures, sheltering property and people it is critical to know what will come in order to be as effective as possible. Awareness will also allow better organization of the alert upstream and downstream the event. Risk awareness is the best way to master it.

However, we can ask ourselves, if there is a real understanding of the probability of risk repetition? Is damage after a disaster proof of powerlessness in the face of risk?

There is indeed a feeling of helplessness, of fatality in the face of risks; one does not have a real influence on these last ones. It is therefore difficult to project one, to visualize the risk and its consequences, hence the difficulty of preparing for it.
This difficulty in becoming aware of the risk increases the vulnerability of populations to risks
On average, 211 million people are directly affected each year by natural disasters, which is almost five times the number of conflict victims.
A recent report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) found that natural disasters have killed 1.3 million people over the last 20 years and left 4.4 billion people injured without shelter or in need of emergency assistance.
According to the UN agency based in Geneva, the economic losses related to climate disasters reached nearly 2245 billion dollars, or 77% of the amount of 2.908 billion dollars of damage recorded between 1998 and 2017.

To hedge against the risks

The awareness of the populations passes first by the states, and local authorities. They put in place action plans that will subsequently be disseminated to the population.
After each event, new measures are taken to ensure that the next incident has less impact. Thus the major floods in Aude in 1999 led the French government to rethink flood risk management. These floods had caused the death of 26 people as well as significant material damage.
Information and prevention are therefore essential to cope with risks. Thus, many plans have been put in place to reduce the consequences of floods. The PAPI (Flood Prevention Action Programs) created in 2003 in France reflect this desire to prevent the risk of flooding. PAPIs aim to reduce vulnerability to flood risk.
The same type of prevention exists in other European countries such as the UK.

The awareness of each citizen of the risk is therefore necessary to reduce the impact of disasters. In addition, the prevention plans put in place cannot be efficient without a collective awareness.

Meeting the residents of Aude

Photos Before / After: Villegailhenc bridge, Villegailhenc temporary bridge, Wall destroyed in Trèbes.

Yesterday, the OgoXe team went to meet the habitants of Narbonne, Trèbes and Villegailhenc in France to better understand the effects of the flooding event which occurred October last year. Four  months have passed since and we can still strongly feel the psychological impact and see all the infrastructure damages from the event.

A huge thank you to all the people who gave their time to deliver testimonials, we hope that the situation will get better soon.