Floods in Europe

Every year severe flood events cause fatalities and enormous economic damage around the globe. Even in Europe flood events are an important topic. In the past 20 years, 953 disasters killed nearly 88,671 people in Europe, affected more than 29 million others and caused a total of 269 US$ billion economic losses.

Between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 major damaging floods. Specially the flood event in 2002 in the Danube and Elbe catchments caused great damage and affected large parts in central Europe. Severe floods in 2005 further reinforced the need for concerted action.

The trend will probably continue to rise as floods and storms are expected to become more frequent and severe in the future in Europe (European Commission and UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, 2009). As a consequence, the revision and adaption of flood management strategies has recently been an important issue. Thats why The flood framework directive of the European Union (European Union, 2007) engages the member states to develop flood risk management plans by December 2015. These plans include structural flood protection measures, such as retention basins and levee systems, as well as non-structural measures, such as flood warning systems in combination with mobile flood protection measures. This helps to increase the preparedness immediately before a flood event.

In terms of emergency preparation and risk management we can ask following questions:

•    Do we have pre-investigated measures ready to go?
•    Do we really know how to react properly within the first hours and beyond?
•    Do we have enough people to trigger this actions?
•    Is the catastrophic team well trained for this extreme situations?