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Disturbed and disrupted: the impact of floods on mobility and consequences for health and wellbeing in cities


  • Dr Nicola Christie (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Liza Griffin (Development Planning Unit)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr. Helena Titheridge (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

The UK summer floods in 2007 affected over 55,000 homes and 6,000 businesses and saw the greatest number of search-and-rescue missions in this country since the Second World War (Marsh and Hannaford, 2007). Flood events are likely to become more frequent as a result of floodplain development, climate change and sea level rise (Environment Agency, 2007; Pitt, 2008).

It is estimated that 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England and many more are at risk from flash floods. Floods cause widespread disruption to transport and peoples mobility with a disproportionate effect on vulnerable members of communities. The Pitt Report (2008) reflected on the need to create resilient communities by helping them prepare, respond and adapt in the aftermath of floods and facilitate ‘recovery’. The Government now seeks to promote community resilience, defined as“Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.” (Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience. London: Cabinet Office, 2011 p4). Regaining mobility is a key part of a community’s ‘recovery’. However, research has tended to focus on quantitative analysis of trip patterns from a transport modelling perspective and not the lived experience of people. There is a dearth of research exploring people’s experiences of flood related mobility problems and their impact on health and wellbeing.

This project aims to carry out in-depth qualitative research to explore the experiences of people who have experienced flood events to understand impacts on mobility, health and wellbeing. It will explore strategies people and communities use to prepare, respond and adapt their mobility and to what extent frontline services, emergency planning officers facilitate resilience.