"Washed away" - assessing community perceptions of flooding and prevention strategies: a North Queensland example

Franklin, Richard C., King, Jemma C., Aitken, Peter J., and Leggat, Peter A. (2014) "Washed away" - assessing community perceptions of flooding and prevention strategies: a North Queensland example. Natural Hazards, 73 (3). pp. 1977-1998.

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Abstract

This article explored the perceptions of residents of a regional city in North Queensland of how to remain safe during flood events. It also explored reasons for and how to prevent risk-taking behaviour in floodwater using the protection motivation theory (PMT). PMT is a psychological theory which has recently been applied to assess behaviour during floods and was used as a framework to analyse the themes of responses to the online survey. The online survey was conducted prior to the wet season of 2011/2012 with 130 Townsville residents participating. The results indicate that about half of respondents (55 %) had some experience with floods of which driving through floodwater (38 %) was the most common type of flood experience listed and was more common amongst male respondents. Respondents' advice to keep friends and family safe during floods was consistent with "coping appraisal", which would improve their ability to cope with the flood. Prior experiences with floodwater influenced the reasons given for why people drive through floodwater and were taken to be indicative of an actor/observer bias. Respondents who had experience driving through floodwater (the actors) indicate how the context of the situation can influence decision-making, whereas those respondents who had no personal experience of driving through floodwater (the observers) were more likely to cite low perceived vulnerability of harm as a motivator. Prevention strategies focused on structural mechanisms to block access, information provision and punishment of offenders. It is suggested that in communities which regularly experience flooding, timely and context specific reminders of the dangers inherent in floodwater along with the type, effectiveness and cost of protective action could minimise the public's contact with floodwater and prove useful regardless of past experiences.

Item ID: 35392
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-0840
Keywords: disaster; drown; river; safety; teenager; protection, motivation theory;
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2014 04:58
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 50%
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