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Insurer calls for better pre-flood investment

More time and money needs to be spent preparing vulnerable communities for extreme weather events, a report has urged.

Insurance firm Zurich teamed up with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Wharton Business School’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center to analyse flood risk management.

It found that 87% of aid funds for areas hit by flooding went on responding to the disasters, with just 13% left to reduce the chances of such events happening again.

The report urged flood resistance be considered alongside development by civic leaders. It also called for better data to be collected, and for a major effort to overcome the practical and mental barriers to investing in flood protection.

“There is a need for a radical rethink on the approach to mitigating and preparing for floods,” said Zurich general insurance chief executive Mike Kerner.

“We need to focus more on pre-event mitigation, as opposed to focusing almost solely on recovery. Because we know that ‘after a flood’ is really just ‘before the next flood’.”

Zurich also published a review of last year’s floods in central Europe.

It found that risk reduction measures along the Isar river meant Munich and Landshut in Germany avoided serious damage.

These included increasing the height of a dam; creating park-like areas to give the river more space; and introducing tracts of land to retain water during floods.

In Austria, investing in mobile flood barriers protected certain towns.

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