Risk Management and Biases in How Drivers Respond to Nuisance Flooding

Saige Hill, Old Dominion University
Juita-Elena (Wie) Yusuf, Old Dominion University
Burton St. John III, University of Colorado, Boulder
Pragati Rawat
Carol Considine, Old Dominion University

This is the authors' submitted version for inclusion in the book Communicating Climate Change: Making Environmental Messaging Accessible, edited by Juita-Elena (Wie) Yusuf and Burton St. John III.

Abstract

Nuisance flooding, or recurrent flooding, occurs during high tide and may be exacerbated when combined with other events such as heavy precipitation, strong winds, or storm surge. Sea level rise has contributed to increased frequency and duration of nuisance flooding in low-lying coastal areas and is causing community-specific impacts such as transportation disruption, road closures, compromises to life and property, overwhelmed storm water systems, and infrastructure damage. This chapter focuses on how drivers respond during nuisance flooding events. Specifically, we discuss how drivers in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern coastal Virginia obtain information about road flooding, how they respond, and the factors that influence their responses. The chapter builds on risk perception research and recognizes that risk management is influenced by the perceived ability to efficaciously address risks. The chapter’s practical discussion focuses on implications of (1) how individuals gather information about a potential risk, (2) how they attempt to use that information to manage the risk, and (3) how current information sources appear to be inadequate for helping individuals to gauge the extent of real risk and take effective adaptive measures. Challenges for risk communication purveyors (e.g., public officials, media outlets, local businesses) are also noted.