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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 8 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2321-2333, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-11-2321-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 25 Aug 2011

Research article | 25 Aug 2011

A comparison of the causes, effects and aftermaths of the coastal flooding of England in 1953 and France in 2010

D. M. Lumbroso1,2 and F. Vinet3 D. M. Lumbroso and F. Vinet
  • 1HR Wallingford, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BA, UK
  • 2ILUNAM Université, Institut Français des Sciences et Technologies des Transports, de l'Aménagement et des Réseaux (IFSTTAR), GER, 44341 Bouguenais, France
  • 3Unité Mixte de Recherche, Gouvernance, Risque, Environnement, Développement (GRED), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, France

Abstract. This paper provides a comparison of the causes, effects and aftermaths of the coastal flooding that occurred on the east coast of England in 1953 and the west coast of France in 2010 that resulted in 307 and 47 deaths respectively. The causes of both events are strikingly similar. Both were caused by a combination of high tides, low atmospheric pressure, high winds and the failure of poorly maintained flood defences. In both cases the number of deaths was related to the vulnerability of the buildings and people. Buildings in the flood zones were often single storey bungalows and the people who died were mostly over 60 yr of age. Both tragedies were national disasters. The 1953 flood in England acted as a catalyst for an acceleration in flood risk management policy and practice. It resulted in: the development of a Storm Tide Warning System for the east coast of England; the setting of new design standards for coastal flood defences; increased investment in improving coastal defences; and a substantial new research effort into coastal processes, protection and forecasting. In France there has also been an episodic shift in flood risk management policy with the focus falling on: control of urban developments in areas at risk of flooding; improved coastal forecasting and warning; strengthening of flood defences; and developing a "culture of risk awareness". This paper outlines the lessons that can be learnt from the two events and provides recommendations concerning how future loss of life as a result of coastal flooding can be reduced.

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