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Review of the flood risk management system in Germany after the major flood in 2013

Annegret H. Thieken, University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
Sarah Kienzler, University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
Heidi Kreibich, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany
Christian Kuhlicke, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Urban and Environmental Sociology, Leipzig, Germany
Michael Kunz, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany; CEDIM - Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Bernhard Mühr, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany; CEDIM - Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Meike Müller, Deutsche Rückversicherung AG, NatCat-Center, Düsseldorf, Germany
Antje Otto, University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
Theresia Petrow, University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany; Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany; German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV), Bonn, Germany
Sebastian Pisi, German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV), Bonn, Germany
Kai Schröter, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany; CEDIM - Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08547-210251

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Abstract

Widespread flooding in June 2013 caused damage costs of €6 to 8 billion in Germany, and awoke many memories of the floods in August 2002, which resulted in total damage of €11.6 billion and hence was the most expensive natural hazard event in Germany up to now. The event of 2002 does, however, also mark a reorientation toward an integrated flood risk management system in Germany. Therefore, the flood of 2013 offered the opportunity to review how the measures that politics, administration, and civil society have implemented since 2002 helped to cope with the flood and what still needs to be done to achieve effective and more integrated flood risk management. The review highlights considerable improvements on many levels, in particular (1) an increased consideration of flood hazards in spatial planning and urban development, (2) comprehensive property-level mitigation and preparedness measures, (3) more effective flood warnings and improved coordination of disaster response, and (4) a more targeted maintenance of flood defense systems. In 2013, this led to more effective flood management and to a reduction of damage. Nevertheless, important aspects remain unclear and need to be clarified. This particularly holds for balanced and coordinated strategies for reducing and overcoming the impacts of flooding in large catchments, cross-border and interdisciplinary cooperation, the role of the general public in the different phases of flood risk management, as well as a transparent risk transfer system. Recurring flood events reveal that flood risk management is a continuous task. Hence, risk drivers, such as climate change, land-use changes, economic developments, or demographic change and the resultant risks must be investigated at regular intervals, and risk reduction strategies and processes must be reassessed as well as adapted and implemented in a dialogue with all stakeholders.

Key words

August 2002 flood; Central Europe; Floods Directive; governance; June 2013 flood; risk management cycle

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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