Contingency planning


Contingency planning encompasses all activities and resources in place in preparation for a hazard event that include:

  • Emergency response and infrastructure
  • Recovery plans

Roles and responsibilities of different parties have to be clearly defined. [*1]


Effective emergency response starts with reliable warning and forecasting services and therefore depends on the quality of monitoring systems and the speed at which they transfer the recorded data to flood control centres.

Although with many remaining uncertainties, significant improvements have been achieved for river flood forecasting, in particular, with the development of hydrometeorological forecasts. However for pluvial flooding, usually associated with highly localized, extremely intense, short-duration storms, both the prediction time and subsequent the warning time is likely to be very short (minutes) and it is difficult to provide effective warning systems for this type of event. Therefor shorter warning times and finer spatial resolution are required.

The second requirement is that all people have access to the warnings and are able to respond to them. In many cases, emergency responses are typically set up by local “champions” who seem to feel responsible individually for their effectiveness. Even where telephone or text messaging warnings are available, not everyone signs up for them. Nonetheless the nature and rapidity of flash flooding events in Small Urban Catchments (SUCAs) may make ‘universal’ warning systems, of the kind used for river or coastal flooding, impossible to deliver, even after new models and radar rainfall techniques have been developed.

Clear indicators are necessary to trigger any emergency plan– and this should include pluvial flooding where feasible. In case of an emergency event evacuation and rescue plans have to be provided and included in emergency management, together with the emergency response staff and resources. The temporary structures such as pumps, sandbags or dismountable barriers, transportation and evacuation facilities have to be made available to those responsible for implementing a response to an emergency event.

The measures described above have to be applied in an integrated way.


Weather forecast in different european countries

Reliable weather forecasts and access to this data are provided by the German weather Service (DWD), which is a state authority with regional agencies.

In England it is the Meteorological Office, working with both the Environment Agency and local authorities and others (e.g. Resilience Fora) who are responsible.

In Scotland the Meteorological Office work closely with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (JBA Consulting, 2004) and with local authorities.

At the national level of France, the National Hydrométéorological Service for Flood Forecast Assistance («Service Central d’Hydrométéorologie et d’Appui à la Prévision des Inondations») provide since 2002, a bi-daily flood vigilance map ( and Météo France (former France National Service) provides an daily meteorological vigilance map ( There are complementary more local and detailed warnings, by local departmental services of Météo-France,and from the local Flood Forecast Services (SPC, «Service de Prévision des Crues»), which are implemented on the 23 major basins of France.

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Contingency planning



*1 Pitt, M (2008)



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