Research Portal

July 1, 2022

Immediate Behavioral Response to the June 17, 2013 Flash Floods in Uttarakhand, North India

Lindell, Michael K.; Arlikatti, Sudha; Huang, Shih-kai. (2019). Immediate Behavioral Response to the June 17, 2013 Flash Floods in Uttarakhand, North India. International Journal Of Disaster Risk Reduction, 34, 129 – 146.

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The 2013 Uttarakhand flash flood was such a surprise for those at risk that the predominant source of information for their risk was environmental cues and, secondarily, peer warnings rather than official warnings. Of those who received warnings, few received information other than the identity of the flood threat. A survey of 316 survivors found that most people's first response was to immediately evacuate but some stayed to receive additional information, confirm their warnings, or engage in evacuation preparations. Unfortunately, engaging in these milling behaviors necessarily delayed their final evacuations. Mediation analysis revealed that psychological reactions mediated the relationship between information sources and behavioral responses. Further analyses revealed that immediate evacuation and evacuation delay were both predicted best by information search and positive affect, but correlation analyses indicated that a number of other models were also plausible. Final evacuation was best predicted by immediate evacuation and, to a significantly lesser extent, household together. Overall, results suggest that the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) should be considered a useful framework for examining household responses to flash floods in developing countries like India. It supports the conclusion that a household's first warning source is a function of two distinct detection and dissemination systems within a community-an official system and an informal system. However, it fails to capture what pre-impact emergency preparedness entails for rapid onset events in a developing country context. Further research is needed to determine the relative importance of situational and cultural characteristics in producing these observed differences.


Risk Perception; Mental Models; Warnings; Evacuation; Disaster; Tsunami; Communication; Earthquake; Beliefs; Hazard; Flash Flood; Warning; Psychological Reactions; India