Flood warning – consulting citizens in a time of crisis

How can traditional research techniques accurately, yet sensitively and dispassionately, capture the impact of a traumatic event on the lives of ordinary people? How do you begin to disentangle a complex, unique and emotionally charged natural disaster before converting it in to a piece of convincing and powerful reportage that will be open to national scrutiny? How do you persuade people who have had their lives literally turned upside down and been made homeless to attend discussion groups to share their experiences? These were just a few of the questions addressed by qualitative research conducted on behalf of the UK Government’s department responsible for civil contingencies, designed to explore people’s experiences of the severe floods that took place across England in the summer of 2007.

Flood warning – consulting citizens in a time of crisis

Krishan LathigraCentral Office of Information, United Kingdom

Amrita SoodQualitative, GfK NOP Social Research, United Kingdom

Philippa MakepeaceStrategy and Communications, the Pitt Review, Cabinet Office, United Kingdom


A shared consensus has emerged in the past decade on the importance of participatory planning in disaster management. Individual and community ownership, commitment and concerted actions in disaster mitigation produce a wide range of appropriate, innovative and feasible mitigation solutions, which are cost-effective and sustainable. The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) from 1990 to 1999 initiated a...

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