Many studies have examined the general public’s flood risk perceptions in the aftermath of local and regional flooding. However, relatively few studies have focused on large-scale events that affect tens of thousands of people within an urban center. Similarly, in spite of previous research on flood risks, unresolved questions persist regarding the variables that might influence perceptions of risk and vulnerability, along with management preferences.

In light of the opportunities presented by these knowledge gaps, this research examined public perceptions of flood risk and vulnerability, and management preferences, within the city of Calgary, Alberta (Canada) in the aftermath of extensive flooding in 2013.

Our findings, which come from an online survey of residents, reveal that direct experience with flooding is not a differentiating factor for risk perceptions when comparing evacuees with nonevacuees who might all experience future risks. However, we do find that judgments about vulnerability—as a function of how people perceive physical distance—do differ according to one’s evacuation experience.

Our results also indicate that concern about climate change is an important predictor of flood risk perceptions, as is trust in government risk managers. In terms of risk management preferences, our results reveal differences in support for large infrastructure projects based on whether respondents feel they might actually benefit from them.

This research was conducted with Alexa Tanner (2014 – 2016). Click here for more information about this research.