Small businesses and flood impacts: the case of the 2009 flood event in Cockermouth

G. Wedawatta*, B. Ingirige, D. Proverbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flooding can have a devastating impact on businesses, especially on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who may be unprepared and vulnerable to the range of both direct and indirect impacts. SMEs may tend to focus on the direct tangible impacts of flooding, limiting their ability to realise the true costs of flooding. Greater understanding of the impacts of flooding is likely to contribute towards increased uptake of flood protection measures by SMEs, particularly during post-flood property reinstatement. This study sought to investigate the full range of impacts experienced by SMEs located in Cockermouth following the floods of 2009. The findings of a questionnaire survey of SMEs revealed that businesses not directly affected by the flooding experienced a range of impacts and that short-term impacts were given a higher significance. A strong correlation was observed between direct, physical flood impacts and post-flood costs of insurance. Significant increases in the costs of property insurance and excesses were noted, meaning that SMEs will be exposed to increased losses in the event of a future flood event. The findings from the research will enable policy makers and professional bodies to make informed decisions to improve the status of advice given to SMEs. The study also adds weight to the case for SMEs to consider investing in property-level flood risk adaptation measures, especially during the post flood reinstatement process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalJournal oF Food Risk Management
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2014


  • adaptation
  • business continuity
  • flooding
  • resilience
  • SMEs
  • vulnerability


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