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Strategies for Managing Disaster and Emergencies in Floodplain Areas


Flooding is a real disaster that devastates the people living in the United States of America for a considerably long period. Despite the problems associated with floods, stakeholders including the federal and states’ administrations are at loggerheads to chart the best way forward in managing the menace. As much as there could be programs put in place to put rescue the situation, there is an urgent need of developing real solutions as suggested by the affected population rather than expecting change to come from Washington. The new programs must be apt in addressing the modern day challenges of flooding and look into sustainability measures at this worrying time of climatic changes. Floods are not only a nuisance to the people living in American floodplains but also to the economic development of the US(Peek & Beavers, 2002). The economic problem emanates from the governmental responsibility of repairing infrastructure destroyed by floods(Alexander, 2002).

The floods kill the flourishing fauna and flora in their natural habitats and agricultural land that are left barren. Floodplain regions in the US are a major loss to the people living in the regions. Their properties are destroyed, their settlements are disoriented, and their livelihoods are totally disrupted. Most significantly, floods kill and that is the worst thing that can happen to any citizen in the US at this age of technology and innovations. The established disaster management and emergency responses do not offer long term and sustainable solution(Beavers, Mileti & Peek, 2000). The ineffectiveness of the policies created by the federal government is a pointer towards the poor coordination of programs to control floods. Hence, this research presents modern day initiatives that can be taken to avert problems caused by floods in the US.     


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Significance of the Study

In the aforementioned statement, floods are a threat to the well being of the American people and to the economic achievement of the states and the federal administrations. To avert further crises, developing disaster management programs will bring in a new wave of hope the affected population and the regimes. This paper, therefore, prides itself as an enlightening tool to all stakeholders should its suggestions be taken into consideration.

Problem Statement

Not less than 94 million acres of land in America are prone to flooding. This is a massive area for the support not only the agricultural activities of the rural people but also the natural habitat for flora and flora. The built infrastructure in the floodplains did not take critical consideration of flood devastations and the environmental impact. The regions are prone to flooding that destroys agricultural land, people’s properties, or even loss of lives. Flooding is, therefore, a problem with socioeconomic connotations in the modern environment(Mileti & Peek, 2001). Evacuation is not a solution, as people still go but to live in the areas after floods. Hence, the states and federal administrations ought to implement effective emergency and disaster management strategies to solve the persistent problem for decades. This research discusses strategies that would ensure effective disaster management program.

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Aims and Objectives

The general objective of this research is to lay bare insightful programs that would be significant in emergency and disaster. The aim of this paper is to develop effective strategies that would address the flooding problem in the US.


1)      To identify the main challenges posed by floods on the people living in the floodplains.

2)      To investigate the viability of flood emergency response systems in the affected regions of the US.

3)      To analyze the effectiveness of the current flood management programs in place.

4)      To come up with emergency disaster management initiatives that would yield positive results in the long term.

Research Questions

Important questions to be answered during this study include:

1)      What are the main challenges posed by floods on the people living in the floodplains?

2)      How viable are the flood emergency response systems in the affected regions of the US?

3)      How effective are the flood management programs currently in place? Can they be improved?

4)      What are the emergency disaster management initiatives that would yield positive results in the long term?

Literature Review

Overview of the Chapter

This intent of doing the literature review section is to provide prior information on the topic of study for acclimatization and getting insightful information of strategies to be improved. The paper is not written from scratch but it is an extension of research aiming at establishing the best way of managing disasters in the floodplain regions of the US. This section is also critical, as it will provide a secondary source of information, upon which comparisons will be made with the findings of this research. In this regard, the literature review will be a source of information on what other researchers have found out on this topic. The section will be developed from scholarly materials in the form of peer reviewed journals, books, and information from the internet for relevant organizations.

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The Main Concern

In a study by Bell & Tobin (2007), participants’ opinion was sought with regard to the most disturbing issue on flooding and 49% of the respondents said flood levels were the main worry. Secondly, of the total respondents, 42% were affirmative that the levels of water and the frequencies of flooding were their main concerns. Frequency alone as a concern for flooding was not viewed by any participant as a concern (Bell & Tobin, 2007). There also seems to be problem of risk communication; more so, if the concerns of the affected population do not reach the intended parties and vice versa. Communication is also crucial because if policies are not effectively communicated either, the affected population would not respond to the new insights to flooding(Cloudman & Kirk, 2006). The frequencies of flooding would also not be helpful if they are not linked to the heights or damages they cause. Hence, for effective policies to be created in flood management, there ought to be a program that brings all these parameters into play (Bell & Tobin, 2007). 

The policies in the US, according to Downton, Morss, Wilhelmi, Gruntfest & Higgins (2005), are dependent on scientific information with regard to flood levels and frequency. Regardless of the available statistics, it is inherent that the data cannot be understood within a wider context because the problem of floods is multifaceted. This is because the meteorological and hydrological information varies from place to place even within very short distances, especially in mountainous regions. Hence, uncertainty of information on floodplains may cause devastating impacts on policy and management responses. The case studies presented in the study by Downton et al. (2005) on South Boulder Creek and Fort Collins demonstrate that “uncertainty has substantial impacts on the regulatory process, public safety, and costs” (Downton et al., 2005, p. 144). The reason, as laid out by Bell & Tobin (2007), is that hydrological and meteorological processes are too complex to be fully resolved by scientific methods. Moreover, scientists do not only constantly disagree on important issues but also change their positions with time. All stakeholders, therefore, must consider uncertainty in order to carry out a significant risk and an assessment of the recommended strategies. The case studies to underscore the significance of understanding the interplay between the uncertainties of a technical nature and social concerns of the affected people. The uncertainties of flood problems have been dealt with the technical and traditional ways on the basis of personal preferences and professional responsibilities; hence, the need for a better way to communicate(Zerdem & Kapucu,2011).

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More than 6 million buildings have at one point been affected by flood in the US spreading in over 88% of the counties since the 1950s (Burby, 2001). The US government has been in the forefront to ensure that the problem is rescued via the establishment of the National Flood Insurance Program, (NFIP) that was first set up in 1968. Nonetheless, the problem of floods in the US has been, according to Burby (2001), laxity in complete flood hazard identification. In addition, the adopted methodologies are flawed, whereas the attempt to make the NFIP reach all the affected people has been marked by low penetration. There is a need of mapping all the critical areas affected by flood in order to actuarially develop effective insurance rates. Development of Geo-referencing maps would also provide detailed facilitation of effective land and proper management (Burby, 2001). Alternatively, Shrubsole (2000) sees that the raising of hazard mitigation funds by the significant amounts is the main response citing the case of Canada. In addition, the hazard mitigation fund should be managed well to ensure that it serves its intended purpose.                 

Research Methodology

This chapter will involve  a systematic procedure, which will be applied in  solving the research problems indicated in chapter one. This research takes a critical in-depth analysis of  information involved in the topic of the study. In addition, the selected  variables are  analyzed. In this regard, the research methodology is organized in stages for logical evaluation of  the findings. The process involves a succinct  definition of the research problem, the determination of the appropriate literature and sources of information, reliable data collection, data processing, and distribution of the research findings. Therefore, the methodology is very important in planning and execution of the research study.

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This research study will apply two data collection methods that are: interview method and questionnaires in collecting  primary data from the field. Towards this, this chapter summarizes the philosophy of the research study, the approach, the study design and methods applied to provide answers to the research questions identified in chapter one.

Research Approach

Qualitative and quantitative research approaches.

The research approach used has been selected on the basis of its suitability for this research study. There are two research approaches that are qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research involves  an explanation  of social values of a given research study built. It also focuses on  the relationship, which exists between a researcher and the topic under investigation. The two approaches indicated above are different in some areas, which involves: research study  questions, objectives, data collection methods, data types, and research  design (Creswell, 1994).


The chronological procedure of this research study starts with identifying the research problem. Secondly, the next stager involves establishing the research aims and objectives. Consequently, the  establishment of  of the research questions is done.The study then includes investigation and literature reviews on the topic of the study.

 Setting out research methods to be followed is critical to direct the study. Methodology is very important in laying down a foundation on how to find answers to the research study questions. In addition, research methodology  helps in outlining efficient ways of  collecting data from the field by the use of both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Therefore, the collected data will be collated and analyzed using appropriate methods. Furthermore,  research study findings are then used for the establishment of the best practical model for emergency and disaster management to remedy the problem of floods in the US.

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Research Design

The main aim of research design is to spell out the kind of approach that was used to carry out investigations in a bid to find relevant answers to the research problem. This research study applies surveys. This is because the nature of the study involves a wide area and calls for a research design, which embraces questionnaire survey.

Secondary Research

Secondary study was first followed by  primary research but then the two were applied simultaneously. The secondary study involves desk research on a variety of topical issues that entails emergency and disaster management as stipulated in the  the literature review section. Secondary study plays a critical role in enhancing an insightful knowledge  into the research study questions presented. In a bid to provide answers to the research question, data were collected from different sources, which includes: published journals, websites, literatures and peer reviewed research articles (Creswell, 1994).

Methods of Collecting Data

Questionnaires and interviews.

A questionnaire survey was used in collecting a wide view on emergency and disaster management. The main benefits of the questionnaires are that they are less costly and provide a higher degree of anonymity to the participants. Carrying out interviews through questionnaires is easy and saves time. Furthermore, it saves money and the number of human personnel involved. Questionnaires provide the sense of anonymity to participants, since questionnaires do not need one by one interaction between the researcher and the participants. As a result, the participants have the opportunity to have the confidence in order to give genuine and accurate data (Creswell, 1994).

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The data from  the questionnaire surveys normally map and correlate quantitative data. One of the main aims of this survey is to examine the scope of the research questions and to gain understanding of flooding. One by one survey and interaction is critical because it reveals the respondent’s emotional feelings and opinions, which is necessary in the analysis and interpretation of the results. The questionnaire survey was carried out in flood prone areas by flood emergency response experts, governmental agencies responsible for flood emergency disaster management. The participants, who were involved in the study at these selected sites, were considered the appropriate ones for the survey. It is prudent to note that their participation in the survey was voluntary.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical consideration is a quite important aspect of research, which can never be ignored. Researchers are supposed to observe the best ethical standard. This involves asking for permission to carry out research in a given field and also asking the consent of the participants. The observation of ethics is a key to the authenticity of the study.


The methodology chapter gives a summary of different choices for this study. In a nutshell, it spells out some methods applied and their suitability to the topic of the study. This research study is  inductive, since the  formulation of theory is based on data collected from the field. In addition, it uses mainly qualitative and quantitative research methods. The research applies a mixture of data sampling and analytical methods.

Data Analysis

The analytic strategy was adopted in the analysis of data that included strategies for exploratory qualitative studies. Data generated were analyzed qualitatively using Paired T-Tests analytic tool. The analysis primarily used descriptive statistics to summarize respondents’ responses to the different aspects of emergency and disaster management plans. Because the items essentially measured a continuum, the descriptive information relied on calculating means (the average across the sample) and standard deviations (the spread of the responses for sample).

To avoid optimistic views, the respondents needed to be critical. Therefore, the questionnaire was answered anonymously and everyone was encouraged to answer critically and honestly. It was expected that the outcome of this questionnaire would help identify crucial aspects of the emergency disaster management strategies and delineate the impact of emergency disaster management to the people.

In order to assess the impact of emergency and disaster management strategies, three variables were investigated. They were largely focused on the key characteristics of disaster management and focused on respondents’ attitudes towards the  present participation and communication culture towards emergency response. These include satisfaction composite; local people involvement, quick communication mode and local communication.

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Emergency and disaster management is very important to a country  growth and development. It increases safety to the people. This is depicted with high satisfaction composite, which has a high probability. Quick communication concerning flood disaster is very important to the people. In addition, local communication plays a critical role in efficient emergency and disaster management. This is because it gives people the opportunity to plan their ways out of danger.


Technological discoveries coupled with proper governmental policies are some of the solutions of the negative impact of floods in floodplains in the US. This research study significantly examined the modern disaster and emergency management techniques designed to control and eradicate flooding problems in the US. To begin with,  the research study has established that installing advance of flood detectors in the affected regions is needed. Secondly, there should be constructed reservoirs and a well-designed drainage system. The reservoirs’ construction should be urgently implemented and the redesigning architectural  building should be planned so that building plans that withstand the adverse effect of flood be implemented in flood plains. These recommendations  are geared towards not only achieving quick response to the disaster emergencies but also serve as a prevention mechanism. The negative impact of flooding puts an enormous challenge to economic development and prosperity of a country. This is because the US government spends a lot of resources to construct and  repair infrastructure destroyed by flood.

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The construction of the reservoirs that has been recommended  above is very critical in managing drainage system not only during rainy season but also at all times. Reservoirs are also beneficial in the generation of  hydroelectric power in the affected region. In this regard, these reservoirs are the economic stimulus program for the region. Similarly, installing advance flood detectors in flood plains as response technique is a very important step in flood and disaster management. However, the local population should be well informed of the advantages of early warning. This is because ignorance and assumption among the local people that the situation of floods may be calm can lead to loss of lives. Moreover, architectural redesigning plans and the establishment of new building codes are the urgent policies, which should be adopted by the government to increase flood disaster management process. The US federal government has adopted several flood emergency and disaster management plans and programs but to no avail. The failure of the government is attributed to lack of proper coordination with the local residents to ensure that an efficient lasting solution is jointly arrived at. In this regard, the success of the recommendation of this research study is anchored on the mutual participation and coordination of all the partners involved.



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