Impacts of flood hazards on small and medium companies: strategies for property level protection and business continuity

Bingunath Ingirige, Gayan Wedawatta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Worldwide floods have become one of the costliest weather-related hazards, causing large-scale human, economic, and environmental damage during the recent past. Recent years have seen a large number of such flood events around the globe, with Europe and the United Kingdom being no exception. Currently, about one in six properties in England is at risk of flooding (EA, 2009), and the risk is expected to further increase in the future (Evans et al., 2004). Although public spending on community-level flood protection has increased and some properties are protected by such protection schemes, many properties at risk of flooding may still be left without adequate protection. As far as businesses are concerned, this has led to an increased need for implementing strategies for property-level flood protection and business continuity, in order to improve their capacity to survive a flood hazard.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute a significant portion of
the UK business community. In the United Kingdom, more than 99% of private sector enterprises fall within the category of SMEs (BERR, 2008). They account for
more than half of employment creation (59%) and turnover generation (52%) (BERR, 2008), and are thus considered the backbone of the UK economy. However, they are often affected disproportionately by natural hazards when compared with their larger counterparts (Tierney and Dahlhamer, 1996; Webb, Tierney, and Dahlhamer, 2000; Alesch et al., 2001) due to their increased vulnerability. Previous research reveals that small businesses are not adequately prepared to cope with the risk of natural hazards and to recover following such events (Tierney and Dahlhamer, 1996; Alesch et al., 2001; Yoshida and Deyle, 2005; Crichton, 2006; Dlugolecki, 2008). For instance, 90% of small businesses do not have adequate insurance coverage for their property (AXA Insurance UK, 2008) and only about 30% have a business continuity plan (Woodman, 2008). Not being adequately protected by community-level flood protection measures as well as property- and business-level protection measures threatens the survival of SMEs, especially those located in flood risk areas.
This chapter discusses the potential effects of flood hazards on SMEs and the coping strategies that the SMEs can undertake to ensure the continuity of their business activities amid flood events. It contextualizes this discussion within a survey conducted under the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research project entitled “Community Resilience to Extreme Weather — CREW”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlood hazards
Subtitle of host publicationimpacts and responses for the built environment
EditorsJessica Lamond, Colin Booth, Felix Hammond, David Proverbs
Place of PublicationBoca Raton, FL (US)
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-1-4398-2625-6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2011


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