Facilitating the Information Flow for Emergency Response

The aim of flood and emergency warnings should be to reach as many people as possible in the area that is expected to be affected, enabling them to make the right choices. The success of flood warnings is dependent upon their coverage and reliability, as well as the ability of the population at risk to receive, comprehend and adequately react upon a warning.

The institutions responsible for issuing flood warnings should have clearly defined responsibilities. Procedures need to be clearly set out to take into account the magnitude of the event. Communication processes related to the evacuation of areas in imminent danger of flooding need to be brought under legal realm. Procedures, backed by laws, must be in place that specify the competent authority or institutional level for that decision and equip authorities with the legal means to enforce an evacuation order and maintain law and order in evacuated areas. For example, the responsibility for declaring a state of emergency in the affected area will need to be clarified in the relevant law.

The use of the media in disseminating flood warnings and emergency bulletins demands that correlative responsibilities are imposed upon broadcasters. The legislation governing commercial broadcasting might set out the responsibility to broadcast public service or emergency bulletins.

In addition to the issue of warnings disseminated to the public by the emergency authority, there are questions as to which agencies should receive what information and when. The practice will differ from country to country, depending on its degree of decentralization, as this may impose a greater number of administrative layers. The passing of information and the timing will depend on the duties assigned to particular bodies, which will be set out in legislation, however, the detailed procedural aspects will be covered by agreements or memorandums of understanding between these bodies according to their own internal procedures or by-laws.

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