Flooding after abundant rain fall is an almost worldwide phenomenon. This is why research has taken up the issue for some time now. 2 recently published papers hint at direct and indirect consequences of excessive rain and flooding which usually are not taken into account. The Lancet respiratory medicine has highlighted the second round effects of flooding which consists in the latent danger of mould creeping into buildings even after the immediate effect of the flood has vanished. It is the mould with its longer duration that causes major respiratory health and safety hazards on top of the instantaneous casualties and epidemic health risks (Link to study 2024).
The second study focuses on “the need for more systematic understanding of how societal structures and vulnerabilities moderate disaster risk” (Link to study). In wealthy countries the flood mortality is substantially lower than in comparatively poor countries. More sophisticated anticipation systems play a major role in reducing casualties. Flood-induced displacements remain hard to predict despite a reasonable explanatory power of the statistical model as the authors point out. Additionally it remains an important question to estimate the share of people who (want to) return after being displaced due to flooding. The frequency of flooding plays a role in combination with the severity of flooding. Climate change might be an additional hazard in the sense that more frequent flooding will change the propensity of people to permanently relocate rather than returning after displacement. Social networks, support and solidarity with the victims of flooding as well as reconstruction efforts will play a crucial role in dealing with these environmental hazards.
Building higher dikes is a worthwhile solution in regions that can afford them (Rotterdam example). It is hardly a solution for countries with little resources to invest in protection in face of an already suffering and displaced population. Dealing with mould after the flooding only adds yet another health hazard to an already difficult situation.