The focus was on flood fatalities, defined as people who lost their life due to floods. The methodological approach was based on the systematic collection of fatal events descriptions from documentary sources and the disaggregation and systematization of all the available information in the fields of MEFF. Data analysis, on one hand supplied a series of results [18
], and on the other hand, suggested further clues to be investigated. Thus, to enlarge the database, we searched for new study areas where inventories of flood damage were available. We identified four new countries (Table 1
): (1) Czech Republic, (2) Israel, (3) Portugal, and (4) Turkey, that provided data on flood fatalities. We sent to each one of the new partners an empty template of MEFF to fill FF for their study area in the 1980–2018 period. Simultaneously, the original study areas in MEFF were extended by fatalities to 2018 and the Calabria was substituted by entire Italy. By these activities, the new EUFF (EUropean Flood Fatalities) database was created (see Section 2.2
2.1. Study Areas and Information Sources
Data collection and analysis of FF was carried out for nine Study Areas (SA) located in eight countries. The entire area further analyzed is named total area (TOT-A) (Figure 1
), while for the SA the following acronyms are used: (1) Czech Republic: CZE; (2) Israel: ISR; (3) Italy: ITA; (4) Turkey: TUR; (5) Greece: GRE; (6) Portugal: POR; (7) South France: SFR; (8) Catalonia: CAT; (9) Balearic Islands: BAL. Table 2
shows the area of each SA and their general demographic data. Turkey is the largest (52.2% of TOT-A surface) and most populated (41.4% of the TOT-A population). Average population density is 182 inh/km2
: the largest value pertains to Israel (378.1 inh/km2
) and the lowest to Greece (81.6 inh/km2
). The average age of population is around 41 years: the highest value pertains to Italy (48 years) and the lowest to Israel (31 years). On average, 48.9% of the population are males, and 51.1% females: the highest percentage of female pertains to Portugal (52.7%), while the lowest value (50.3%) pertains to both Israel and Balearic Islands.
(1) Czech Republic (CZE)
The Czech Republic (until 31 December 1992 the western part of Czechoslovakia) is located in Central Europe. It has an indented morphology represented by lowlands, highlands and mountains with altitudes between the lowest point at the north-west in Hřensko (115 m a.s.l.), and the highest point in Sněžka Mount (1603 m a.s.l.). The annual precipitation has a maximum in summer and a minimum in winter, and totals fluctuate between 400 mm and 1450 mm. CZE represents 5.3% of the surface, and 5.3% of population of TOT-A, with a population density of 133.8 inhabitants per km2. The average age of population is 43 years and 50.9% of the population is made of females. Data of flood victims comes from historical-climatological database of the Institute of Geography, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University in Brno, collected from different documentary evidence. Newspaper information was dominant in the 1980–2018 period, partly complemented by professional papers describing outstanding events and notes of observers at meteorological stations of the national network.
(2) Israel (ISR)
In this SA, four physiographic regions can be distinguished: (i) The coastal plain, with elevation from 10–20 m to about 100 m a.s.l., that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the foothills. (ii) The central mountain belt, including the Galilee, Samaria and Judea mountains, with elevations between 500 m and 1000 m a.s.l. (iii) The Rift Valley area, a linear depression trending north–south. The Southern Negev desert covers almost half of the country, bordering in the south to the Red Sea. Climate varies from arid to semi-arid and humid. ISR represents 1.5% of the area and 4.2% of population of TOT-A, with a population density of 378.1 inhabitants per km2. The mean age of population is equal to 31 years. Females represent 50.3% of the population. Moshe Inbar conducts a database for natural hazards in Israel at the Department of Geography and Environmental studies, in the University of Haifa, for the period between 1948 and present days. The natural hazards include earthquakes, floods, landslides, droughts, and forest fires. Data source for human victims are newspapers and radio news. For the present work, only flood fatalities were extracted from the mentioned database.
(3) Italy (ITA)
The territory of Italy consists of a peninsula and 2 main islands located in the middle of the Mediterranean basin. More than ¾ of the territory is formed by mountains and hills. The highest elevations are reached on the Alps (>4500 m a.s.l.). Except for the Pianura Padana, flat areas are not very numerous and vast: they are located along the main rivers and on some costal sectors. Northern areas show very cold winters, with hot and humid summers, and mean annual rain reaching 3000 mm. In central part, the climate is milder, while Southern regions and the islands generally fit to the Mediterranean climate and have the lowest mean annual precipitation (around 300 mm). ITA represents 20.1% of the area, and 30.5% of population of TOT-A, with a population density of 200.7 inhabitants per km2
. Inhabitants of ITA are on average 48 years old. 51.3% of the population is made of females. Data on FF were collected at CNR-IRPI (Italian acronym of National Research Council-Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection) by systematically surveying national newspapers. They were already partially published in papers dealing with human impacts of both landslides and floods [19
(4) Turkey (TUR)
Turkey has a very complex topography, with mostly W–E oriented mountains. Mountains block the moist air flow towards inlands, resulting in a dry climate in the interior, and moist and mild climate in the south, west, and north of the country. Eastern part has relatively higher altitudes (up to 5137 m), with severe winters, while the southeast area has more semi-arid climate characteristics. Average annual precipitation is 574 mm; internal regions have only 250 mm, while the figure in northeast coast exceeds 2000 mm. With 783,562 km2
, TUR covers 52.2% of TOT-A, and accounts for 41.4% of the population of TOT-A. However, the population density is only 104.7 inhabitants per km2
. The average age of population is 32 years and females include 50.8% of the population. The flood fatalities data comes from the Turkish Severe Weather Database, which is built (and continuously updated) using official hazardous weather records, newspaper archives, voluntary reports, and other sources. The database includes tornadoes, severe hail, damaging winds, floods, lightning fatalities, and injuries. Further details regarding the database are discussed in several papers [22
]. For the present work, only flood fatalities were extracted from the mentioned database.
(5) Greece (GRE)
Greece is mostly a mountainous country (about 80% of the territory) with the highest Mount Olympus (2917 m a.s.l.). It also has a complex land–water distribution with numerous islands forming a coastline in the length of 13,676 km. It is characterized by a Mediterranean climate. Mean annual totals up to 400–600 mm are observed over the eastern part of continental Greece, while the islands of the Aegean Sea are much drier. GRE represents 8.8% of the area and 5.4% of population of TOT-A, with the population density achieving only 81.6 inhabitants per km2
. The mean age of population is equal to 45 years and females create 50.8% of the population. Data were obtained by the database of the National Observatory of Athens on high-impact weather events in Greece [25
], enriched with details on victims gathered by the newspapers Rizospastis and Ethnos, reliable media websites, and the community of amateur meteorologists.
(6) Portugal (POR)
Portugal is located in the southwest of the Iberia Peninsula. The elevation ranges from 0 m a.s.l., near the coast, to 1993 m a.s.l. in the Central Mountain range. The climate is controlled by the transition between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic conditions. The mean annual precipitation is around 900 mm, ranging from less than 500 mm in northeast and south, to more than 2000 mm in the northwest mountains. Rainfall amounts tend to increase with increasing latitude, elevation and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. POR accounts for 6.1% of the area and 5.2% of population of TOT-A, with a population density of 111.2 inhabitants per km2
. The mean age of population is equals to 46 years and the percentage of female population is 52.7%. The Disaster Database [26
], based on a systematical collection of floods and landslides that have caused human damages in Portugal referred to in newspapers, is the main data source. Details about flood victims were further complemented with media websites and published papers about flood fatalities [3
(7) South France (SFR)
The SFR includes the former region Languedoc-Roussillon (now part of Occitan region) and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur regions. Ponds and deltas are typical of the lowland in the western part (Languedoc). The relief is steeper and valleys deeper in the eastern part (Provence). The coastal plains are surrounded by 2500 m high summits in the Pyrenees and the Alps, and 1500 m in the Cévennes. The summer drought and the intense rainfall in autumn are the key features of the climate. The rainfall concentrates over the period September–December (50% of annual total). Winter is drier with cold continental winds. SFR represents 3.6% of the area and 3.6% of population of TOT-A, with a population density ranging from 78.1 inh/km2
(Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées) to 156 inh/km2
(Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur) with an average of 117 inhabitants per km2
. The mean age of population is equal to 42 years. Females represent 51.9% of the population. Data were collected by the department of geography of the University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (UMR GRED laboratory), starting from documentary sources and newspapers and complemented through post flood surveys published by the PhD of L. Boissier [28
] and by Vinet and Boissier [29
(8) Catalonia (CAT)
Catalonia (Spain) is a region in the northeast Iberian Peninsula. The most significant topographic features are the Pyrenees (over 2500 m a.s.l.), the Littoral range and the Pre-Littoral system, rising to higher than 500 m and 1200 m a.s.l., respectively. There are two wet seasons (autumn and spring) and two dry seasons (winter and summer). The mean annual precipitation can vary from 400 mm, in Central Depression, to 1200 mm, in the Pyrenees. CAT represents 2.1% of the area and 3.8% of population of TOT-A, with the population density equal to 235 inhabitants per km2
, 50.9% of females. However, the population is mainly concentrated along the coast. For instance, Barcelona (with a density of 15,866.95 inh/km²) and two surrounding municipalities, concentrate 46% of the population of Catalonia. The mean age of population is 42 years. Data comes from the INUNGAMA database [30
] that contains all the flood events that have produced socioeconomic impact between 1981 and nowadays. This database contains information such as the date, the counties and municipalities affected, the main rivers or basins involved, the impacts produced, and the type of flood. Information regarding victims has been complemented with newspaper data, mainly La Vanguardia, and official reports.
(9) Balearic Islands (BAL)
The Balearic Islands archipelago (Spain) is situated off the eastern coast of Spain. It consists from five islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Eivissa, Formentera, and Cabrera) with adjacent islets. Precipitation expresses a clear Mediterranean pattern, with a maximum during autumn and a minimum in summer. Mean annual totals range from 1000 mm, in Mallorca, to 300 mm, in the southern islands of Eivissa and Formentera. BAL, with 4492 km2
, accounts only to 0.3% of the area and to 0.6% of population for TOT-A. However, the population density achieves 258 inhabitants per km2
, 50.3% of which are females. Data were obtained from a PhD thesis [31
], and complemented by research in regional newspapers, such as Diario de Mallorca and Ultima Hora, and by data gathered for the implementation of the Flood Prevention Plan.
As for data analysis in this paper, it is not focused on testing any existing hypothesis, but on information collection and explanation. This qualitative research method can be assimilated to the Grounded Theory Approach, a method of research accepted throughout the social sciences and nursing. This method is described as the “discovery of emerging patterns in data” with the aim to generate theory from the research situation in the field, as it is [35
All the data discussed are available in the tables, both as numbers and as percentage of the total data available, in order to highlight their significance. We discuss the analyses performed using the whole dataset and compare them with working hypotheses available in literature and elaborations at the scale of study areas.
If we neglect for a while that the number of “FF” represents the number of people who lost their life, it can be argued that the number of “data” are not sufficient to perform complex statistical analyses, for this reason we performed simply descriptive statistical elaborations. Particularly, we present the assessed trend of #FF for TOT-A and SA, and we express it by using the slope angle of the trend line.
Using the large amount of data collected, we assessed seasonality of both events and fatalities and their relative trends. Moreover, we assess the trend of the number of fatalities per event, which represents, to a certain extent, the severity of the event with respect to people.
To compare the number of FF among the different SA, we introduced the Flood Impact Index (FII) that represents a normalization of the number of victims to the surface and population of the SA. It is defined as follows:
The ratio #FF/Inhabitants × 100,000 represents the flood mortality on the population of the SA, while #FF/Area (km2) × 1000 actually represents the spatial density of flood fatalities in the SA.