Research exploring people's recovery after the Hull floods changed government policy and national guidelines on managing recovery after flooding and other disaster events.


  • The findings were directly quoted in The Pitt Review, the Government's national inquiry into the 2007 floods. The inclusion of the research enabled the Pitt Review to focus more strongly on the previously neglected area of long-term flood recovery; earlier drafts of the report concentrated more narrowly on flood warnings and emergency response.
  • The project team also provided evidence to Defra consultations on flooding, recommending a locally-flexible scheme to subsidise the implementation of flood resistance and resilience measures, and close liaison with local communities throughout the process. All these suggestions were incorporated by Defra as part of its property level flood protection grant scheme.
  • The Cabinet Office also utilised the research findings in their Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience document. Cabinet officials commented on how helpful it was to learn from the diaries of participants themselves about their experiences.
  • The international charity Save the Children invited the researchers to work with them towards the development of a set of resources to help children and young people in the UK deal with their emotions following on from a disaster, feeding into the charity’s work in disaster relief management.
  • Both participating adults and children reported that working with the project helped them in the recovery process, by providing an outlet to express their experiences in the form of diaries or storyboards.

"The researchers' methodology allowed us to work in a more emotional way. We built that into the curriculum and certainly into the social way that we dealt with families. I think if we hadn't done that with these children, then certainly their attainment and their outcomes would have suffered." (Ian Lamb, Priority Families Education Co-ordinator, Hull City Council)

About the research

In June 2007 Hull experienced a devastating flood after it received a sixth of its annual rainfall in just 12 hours. More than 10,500 homes were evacuated and many residents were unable to return to them for over two years.

The Hull Floods Project based at Lancaster University documented stories of physical, social and personal recovery drawn from residents' flood experience. The researchers asked 50 severely affected residents to keep a diary, and brought them together for regular group discussions. They also worked with children and young people, encouraging them to tell their own stories with the help of storyboards, using drawings and poems.

The diaries and interviews revealed that often it was not the flood itself that was the most traumatic experience, but rather the process afterwards - having to deal with insurers and builders, relocating to temporary and cramped accommodation, living with anxieties and disruptions to everyday life.

The findings transformed policymakers' understanding of the human impacts of flood recovery and highlighted the need to support people in the long term after disaster events, rather than solely focusing on management and prevention of the events themselves.