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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Hopkins, J. & Warburton, J. Local perception of infrequent, extreme upland flash flooding: prisoners of experience? Disasters. 2015;39:546-569.

Author(s) from Durham


The United Kingdom has experienced several exceptional summer flash floods in recent years and there is growing concern about the frequency of such events and the preparedness of the population. This paper uses a case study of the upper Ryedale flash flood (2005) and questionnaire and interview data to assess local perceptions of upland flash flooding. Experience of a major flash flood may not be associated with increased flood risk perception. Despite local residents’ awareness of a trend towards wetter summers and more frequent heavy rainfall, the poor maintenance of rivers was more frequently thought to be a more significant factor influencing local flood risk than climate change. Such findings have important implications for the potential success of contemporary national flood policies, which have put greater emphasis on public responsibility for responding to flooding. This study recommends, therefore, the use of fresh participatory approaches to redistribute and raise awareness of locally-held flood knowledge.

Department of Geography