Natural Hazards

, Volume 21, Issue 2–3, pp 225–245 | Cite as

Risk Assessment, Emergency Preparedness and Response to Hazards: The Case of the 1997 Red River Valley Flood, Canada

  • C. Emdad Haque


The prevention and/or mitigation offlood disasters requires continual research, numerouscapital investment decisions, and high-qualitymaintenance and modifications of flood-controlstructures. In addition, institutional and privatepreparedness is needed. The experience offlood-control in North America has shown mixedoutcomes: while flood frequency has declined duringthe last few decades, the economic losses havecontinued to rise. Recent catastrophic floods havealso been linked to major structural interventions inthe region. The flood diversions may cause harmfuleffects upon the floodplain inhabitants by influencingflood levels in areas which are not normallyflood-prone. The increasing vulnerability of thefloodplain inhabitants poses new challenges and raisesquestions concerning the existing risk assessmentmethods, institutional preparedness and responses todisaster-related public emergencies, and local-levelpublic involvement in flood mitigation efforts.

In the context of the catastrophic 1997 floods of theRed River Valley, Manitoba, Canada, this researchfocuses on two aspects of flood-related emergencygovernance and management: (i) the functions andeffectiveness of control structures, and (ii) theroles, responsibilities and effectiveness oflegislative and other operational measures. The studyconcludes that the flood-loss mitigation measures,both in terms of effects of control structures andinstitutional interventions for emergency evacuation,were not fully effective for ensuring the well-beingand satisfaction of floodplain inhabitants. Althoughorganizational preparedness and mobilization to copewith the 1997 flood emergency was considerable, theirsuccess during the onset of the flood event waslimited. Lack of communication and understandingbetween institutions, a reluctance to implementup-to-date regulations, and minimal publicparticipation in the emergency decision-making processall contributed to the difficulties experienced byfloodplain inhabitants.

risk assessment emergency preparedness legislative measures flood prevention and mitigation forecasting and warning control structure public participation Canada Red River Valley 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Emdad Haque
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada

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