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Experience From the 2021 Floods in the Netherlands: Household Survey Results on Impacts and Responses
  • +5
  • Thijs Endendijk,
  • W J Wouter Botzen,
  • Hans De Moel,
  • Jeroen C J H Aerts,
  • Sem J Duijndam,
  • Kymo Slager,
  • Bas Kolen,
  • Matthijs Kok
Thijs Endendijk
VU Amsterdam

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
W J Wouter Botzen
Utrecht University, VU Amsterdam
Hans De Moel
VU Amsterdam
Jeroen C J H Aerts
Deltares, VU Amsterdam
Sem J Duijndam
VU Amsterdam
Kymo Slager
Bas Kolen
, HKV Consultants
Matthijs Kok
, HKV Consultants


This study provides an overview of the impact of the 2021 summer floods in the Netherlands and the assessment of the effectiveness of various adaptation measures, evacuation strategies, and their impact on society. The floods were characterized by record rainfall in the cross-border region of the Meuse and Rhine basins and resulted in devastating losses in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The study reports on a household survey conducted with 1,513 households in the wake of the 2021 flood event in the southern part of the Netherlands (province of Limburg). Using a descriptive approach, we present household experiences during several stages of the disaster management cycle, reporting on experienced flood hazard and impacts, evacuation, flood damage mitigation measures, the compensation progress, risk perceptions, and stress. Our findings highlight the role of early warnings and flood risk information provision in flood risk management. Risk perceptions influence both adaptation and evacuation behavior, as respondents who were aware of flood risks beforehand were significantly more likely to take flood damage mitigation measures compared with those who were not aware. Flood damage mitigation measures, such as building with water-resistant materials and elevating valuables, reduced flood damage by 20% to 50%. Our survey shows that of those who received warnings, the majority actually evacuated. However, residents not aware of any evacuation advice were significantly less likely to evacuate. Additionally, the majority (75%) of respondents experienced high or very high stress during and after the flood, which is most likely related to the destructive flood impacts and to the slow and uncertain compensation experienced by many respondents. This paper describes the flood event to provide insights into Dutch disaster management and what can be learned for potential future disasters in other contexts.