Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 287–296 | Cite as

What helps people recover from floods? Insights from a survey among flood-affected residents in Germany

  • Philip BubeckEmail author
  • Annegret H. Thieken
Original Article


The number of people exposed to natural hazards has grown steadily over recent decades, mainly due to increasing exposure in hazard-prone areas. In the future, climate change could further enhance this trend. Still, empirical and comprehensive insights into individual recovery from natural hazards are largely lacking, hampering efforts to increase societal resilience. Drawing from a sample of 710 residents affected by flooding across Germany in June 2013, we empirically explore a wide range of variables possibly influencing self-reported recovery, including flood-event characteristics, the circumstances of the recovery process, socio-economic characteristics, and psychological factors, using multivariate statistics. We found that the amount of damage and other flood-event characteristics such as inundation depth are less important than socio-economic characteristics (e.g., sex or health status) and psychological factors (e.g., risk aversion and emotions). Our results indicate that uniform recovery efforts focusing on areas that were the most affected in terms of physical damage are insufficient to account for the heterogeneity in individual recovery results. To increase societal resilience, aid and recovery efforts should better address the long-term psychological effects of floods.


Floods Resilience Recovery Natural hazards Climate change Adaptation 

Supplementary material

10113_2017_1200_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Earth and Environmental SciencePotsdam UniversityPotsdamGermany

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