Flooding causes an average of $5 billion in damages per year in the United States, and can lead to hundreds of fatalities, according to a new report released by the RAND Corporation. Titled Community and Individual Disaster Resilience for Floods: Options for Improving Protective Action Guidance, the report aims to assist DHS officials in “exploring ways to improve protective action guidance and messaging for flood safety to better serve the needs of individuals and communities, reduce flood impacts, and promote disaster resilience.”
The authors reviewed the existing landscape of flood risk communication and identified actions FEMA can take to improve the uptake and effectiveness of their messaging. Based on the study’s key findings, the authors provide two “integrative recommendations” to enhance FEMA’s communication strategy:
- Establish flood messaging standards; i.e., the overall readability of the message, as well as the understanding of relevant social factors that can affect how the message is received.
- Leverage community-centered approaches. This includes working with and understanding the target community, tailoring messages specifically for that community, and delivering messages across multiple formats and channels to increase uptake of the communication.