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Open AccessArticle

Assessment of Business Interruption of Flood-Affected Companies Using Random Forests

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
TU-Darmstadt, Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering, Schnittspahnstraße 9, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
Deutsche Rückversicherung Aktiengesellschaft, Hansaallee 177, 40549 Düsseldorf, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(8), 1049;
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Water Resources Management and Governance)
Losses due to floods have dramatically increased over the past decades, and losses of companies, comprising direct and indirect losses, have a large share of the total economic losses. Thus, there is an urgent need to gain more quantitative knowledge about flood losses, particularly losses caused by business interruption, in order to mitigate the economic loss of companies. However, business interruption caused by floods is rarely assessed because of a lack of sufficiently detailed data. A survey was undertaken to explore processes influencing business interruption, which collected information on 557 companies affected by the severe flood in June 2013 in Germany. Based on this data set, the study aims to assess the business interruption of directly affected companies by means of a Random Forests model. Variables that influence the duration and costs of business interruption were identified by the variable importance measures of Random Forests. Additionally, Random Forest-based models were developed and tested for their capacity to estimate business interruption duration and associated costs. The water level was found to be the most important variable influencing the duration of business interruption. Other important variables, relating to the estimation of business interruption duration, are the warning time, perceived danger of flood recurrence and inundation duration. In contrast, the amount of business interruption costs is strongly influenced by the size of the company, as assessed by the number of employees, emergency measures undertaken by the company and the fraction of customers within a 50 km radius. These results provide useful information and methods for companies to mitigate their losses from business interruption. However, the heterogeneity of companies is relatively high, and sector-specific analyses were not possible due to the small sample size. Therefore, further sector-specific analyses on the basis of more flood loss data of companies are recommended. View Full-Text
Keywords: business interruption; floods; Random Forests; companies; variable importance business interruption; floods; Random Forests; companies; variable importance
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Sultana, Z.; Sieg, T.; Kellermann, P.; Müller, M.; Kreibich, H. Assessment of Business Interruption of Flood-Affected Companies Using Random Forests. Water 2018, 10, 1049.

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