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Urban Area Response to Flash Flood–Triggering Rainfall, Featuring Human Behavioral Factors: The Case of 22 October 2015 in Attica, Greece

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  • 1 Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • | 2 CNRS-LTHE, Grenoble, France
  • | 3 Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
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Abstract

Over the past several decades, flash floods that occurred in Attica, Greece, caused serious property and infrastructure damages, disruptions in economic and social activities, and human fatalities. This paper investigated the link between rainfall and flash flood impact during the catastrophic event that affected Attica on 22 October 2015, while also addressing human risk perception and behavior as a response to flash floods. The methodology included the analysis of the space–time correlation of rainfall with the citizens’ calls to the emergency fire services for help, and the statistical analysis of people’s responses to an online behavioral survey. The results designated critical rainfall thresholds associated with flash flood impact in the four most affected subareas of the Attica region. The impact magnitude was found to be associated with the localized accumulated rainfall. Vulnerability factors, namely, population density, geographical, and environmental features, may have contributed to the differences in the impact magnitudes between the examined subareas. The analysis of the survey’s behavioral responses provided insights into peoples’ risk perception and coping responses relative to the space–time distribution of rainfall. The findings of this study were in agreement with the hypothesis that the more severe the rainfall, the higher peoples’ severity assessment and the intensity of emotional response. Deeper feelings of fear and worry were found to be related to more adjustments to the scheduled activities and travels. Additionally, being alert to the upcoming rainfall risk was found to be related to decreased worry and fear and to fewer changes in scheduled activities.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Publisher’s Note: This article was revised on 5 September 2017 to include the open access designation that was missing when originally published.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Katerina Papagiannaki, katpap@noa.gr

Abstract

Over the past several decades, flash floods that occurred in Attica, Greece, caused serious property and infrastructure damages, disruptions in economic and social activities, and human fatalities. This paper investigated the link between rainfall and flash flood impact during the catastrophic event that affected Attica on 22 October 2015, while also addressing human risk perception and behavior as a response to flash floods. The methodology included the analysis of the space–time correlation of rainfall with the citizens’ calls to the emergency fire services for help, and the statistical analysis of people’s responses to an online behavioral survey. The results designated critical rainfall thresholds associated with flash flood impact in the four most affected subareas of the Attica region. The impact magnitude was found to be associated with the localized accumulated rainfall. Vulnerability factors, namely, population density, geographical, and environmental features, may have contributed to the differences in the impact magnitudes between the examined subareas. The analysis of the survey’s behavioral responses provided insights into peoples’ risk perception and coping responses relative to the space–time distribution of rainfall. The findings of this study were in agreement with the hypothesis that the more severe the rainfall, the higher peoples’ severity assessment and the intensity of emotional response. Deeper feelings of fear and worry were found to be related to more adjustments to the scheduled activities and travels. Additionally, being alert to the upcoming rainfall risk was found to be related to decreased worry and fear and to fewer changes in scheduled activities.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Publisher’s Note: This article was revised on 5 September 2017 to include the open access designation that was missing when originally published.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Katerina Papagiannaki, katpap@noa.gr
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