Flood Evacuation in Two Communities in Scotland: Lessons from European Research

August 1998 (VOL. 16, NO. 2)

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In January 1993 and December 1994, two areas of Scotland experienced intensive flooding and large-scale evacuation of a spontaneous and unstructured nature. Both the flooding and the evacuation left their traumatic mark on the households. The research reported here was qualitative, with the objective of investigating the evacuation process inductively- how it operated on the ground, what were the problems, and how the process could be enhanced to maximize effectiveness for those who have to experience the consequences. This long-term or extended process of evacuation is described and discussed in detail in this paper, where it is emphasized that evacuation is not complete until everyone has returned home. The elderly, children, and women are also identified by the research as groups which suffered particularly as a result of the poorly executed evacuations and which require special attention. Policy and practical recommendations are drawn from the research, which may be equally applicable to future floods in the U.K., Europe, and elsewhere.