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Commentary

ICPEM Annual Conference 2022 Part 6

Mary Long-Dhonau OBE; Flood – experiences, problems and recovery A very interesting talk that raised a lot of reflective points for me and linked to a lot of other DRR and comm's activity and learning from the past month. This was a particularly practical talk with direct peer to peer learning from a flood survivor. I am very grateful to Mary, for sharing her experiences after she has flooded on many occasions and also shared experiences of many people she has supported. The things that you don’t learn about flooding from a textbook, and only from lived experience. For starters – I had no idea that sandbags were just so entirely ineffective! This encouraged me consider when do we make time to stop thinking about - how we communicate the need for grab bags – to actually put one together for ourselves? I am now pleased to say – I got myself a grab bag sorted. But one of the other key points I have been reflecting on was around prevention and preparedness comms, a topic with a lot of traction last week in light of #drrday and the need for early warnings. Thinking back to Mary’s talk - Yes, we have early warning systems in the UK and we can sign up to flood alerts – but are these alerts fully accessible, diverse and inclusive enough to meet the whole of society needs for differing populations and groups within our communities? this had me thinking back to the CORE EU-funded Project webinar 'Designing an inclusive resilience: the consideration of vulnerability before, during & after disasters' - are we truly communicating effectively and inclusively to enable better risk reduction? Mary relived her experience of being flooded time and time again, and how not everyone had adopted preventative flood mitigation measures. It would take a certain number of flood instances for people to take action and the psychology behind this. This makes me think - are prevention comms frequent enough, active enough and inspiring enough to encourage people to take self-protective action before an event occurs? If you want to know more about how to improve crisis comms, there is new Cabinet Office Guidance: Crisis Communications - a behavioural approach. [link below] The principles in this guidance are equally applicable for comms throughout the cycle of prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and adaptation. Secondly, I wish to draw people’s attention to; the Property Flood Resilience 2020 publication. [link below]. It is full of inspirational case studies about homeowners and business who have made adaptations to enable them to prevent and recover from flooding. Mary Long-Dhonau OBE thank you for such an inspiring, practical presentation, and for your tireless campaign work.

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