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Change of Risk Perception and Risk Communication in County Cork, Ireland after Former Hurricane Ophelia (2017)

  • Due to its location at the south-west coast of Ireland County (Co.) Cork is frequently affected by post tropical cyclones (PTCs). There have been several records of these post hurricanes in the past with the last severe PTC being Hurricane Ophelia in 2017. It caused severe disruption in the whole country, especially in Co. Cork with several thousand people without water, power and mobile service for up to 10 days and thousands of uprooted trees which blocked roads. PTCs, like Ophelia, will become more frequent under climate change conditions due to warmer sea surface temperatures and decreased vertical wind shear. Hence, hurricanes can reach northern latitudes more easily and have a higher chance of making landfall in Co. Cork. This thesis assesses the risk perception towards natural hazards (NHs) and the perception of the risk communication of hurricane Ophelia by the citizens of Co. Cork and suggests improvements in communication based on the people’s perception. This was achieved by conducting a standardised survey to analyse the perception. The risk communication chain, its content and media involved were evaluated with interviews with professionals involved in risk management in Ireland. Improvement suggestions were extracted of the survey and the expert interviews as well and have been ranked by the participating experts according to their importance. The people of Co. Cork are not overly concerned about being affected by NHs. The three hazards they feel threatened by most, after Ophelia hit the country, are storms, river floodings and hurricanes. Before Ophelia made landfall, they only ranked hurricanes in the 8th place (out of 8). Ergo, after experiencing Ophelia people are much more aware of hurricane risk in Ireland. People were very satisfied with the information they received during Ophelia. The improvements they wished for are: 1) information on how to deal with and how to prepare for impacts of the storm, 2) the impacts that can be expected locally and 3) information where to go to in case of severe impact to property. These are mostly in line with the improvements the experts ranked as most important for Cork. Experts voted the suggestion to include information on behavioural advice into risk communication before the NH hits and advice on how to organise for impacts afterwards as their number one priority. Their second rank is to have education and training for the citizens in Cork. On third place they voted for a change to impact forecasting. Even there are no central buildings or shelters available in Co. Cork, this improvement suggestion was only voted on rank 13 by the experts (out of 14). Having a participatory approach in risk communication can overcome the discrepancies between the wishes of the population and the ones of the experts and would lead to a better understanding of all stakeholders involved in risk communication and can reduce vulnerability of the people in Co. Cork to the impacts of NHs. The implementation of these activities would be in line with best practice examples and would support the guidelines of the Irish Framework for Major Emergency Management.
Author:Ines Könsgen
Referee:Udo Nehren, Kieran Hickey
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Publishing Institution:Hochschulbibliothek der Technischen Hochschule Köln
Granting Institution:Technische Hochschule Köln
Date of first Publication:2023/01/24
Date of Publication (online):2023/01/26
Tag:Cork; Hurricane; Ophelia; Risk Communication; Risk Perception
Institutes:Fakultät für Raumentwicklung und Infrastruktursysteme (F12) / Fakultät 12 / Institut für Technologie und Ressourcenmanagement in den Tropen und Subtropen
Dewey Decimal Classification:500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik
Open Access:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International