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Floods and the COVID‐19 pandemic—A new double hazard problem

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Abstract The coincidence of floods and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) is a genuine multihazard problem. Since the beginning of 2020, many regions around the World have been experiencing this double hazard of serious flooding and the pandemic. There have been 70 countries with flood events occurring after detection of the country's first COVID‐19 case and hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated. The main objective of this article is to assess challenges that arise from complex intersections between the threat multipliers and to provide guidance on how to address them effectively. We consider the limitations of our knowledge including “unknown unknowns.” During emergency evacuation, practicing social distancing can be very difficult. However, people are going to take action to respond to rising waters, even if it means breaking quarantine. This is an emergency manager's nightmare scenario: two potentially serious emergencies happening at once. During this unprecedented year (2020), we are experiencing one of the most challenging flood seasons we have seen in a while. Practical examples of issues and guides for managing floods and COVID‐19 are presented. We feel that a new approach is needed in dealing with multiple hazards. Our main messages are: a resilience approach is needed whether in response to floods or a pandemic; preparation is vital, in addition to defense; the responsible actors must be prepared with actions plans and command structure, while the general population must be involved in the discussions so that they are aware of the risk and the reasons for the actions they must take. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Methods
In 70 countries, flood events occurred during the pandemic, that is, after detection of the first COVID‐19 case
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Generic presentation of the approach to multihazard management as it can be applied to flooding under the pandemic conditions
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Graphical illustration of resilience: (a) system performance; (b) resilience. Black line shows full recovery to prehazard system performance. Red line shows partial recovery. Blue line shows improved system performance
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Maps of flooding risk and COVID‐19 (a) social contact decrease by 20%; (b) social contact decrease by 40%Source: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/maps‐flooding‐risk‐and‐covid‐19, last accessed September 16, 2020
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Large dike sandbagging using a multiperson team—carouselSource: After https://www.gov.mb.ca/emo/pdfs/adaptations‐to‐high‐water‐response‐activity.pdf, last accessed September 15, 2020
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Investment in flood protection and other water engineering programs since 1990 in China (in 2015 USD)Source: After Du, Cheng, and Huang (2019)
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