Flood Information Was Often Incomplete Incorrect or Not Timely

• Loss Values Data on flood conditions and losses were typically poor and generally inaccurate (often on the low side), and estimates remained highly inaccurate for considerable time after the floods. Means for obtaining more accurate near real-time data on conditions and losses should be developed to improve planning for in-flood adjustments and for relief and restoration activities.

• Forecasts by Government Agencies The operational hydrologic models used for flood predictions on all time scales need major improvements. Interactions between forecasters and hydrologists need improvement with a clarification of responsibilities. Methods used to estimate regional and national effects of large-scale wet and dry weather conditions on crop yields are inadequate and make sizable errors in growing season flood situations.

• Confusion over Government Relief Near real-time estimates of flood losses and predictions of the flood's size, both physically and economically, were underestimated in 1993 and 1997. They reflect the lack of real-time information about the magnitude of the flood and its impacts, plus poor outlooks about the growth of damages. The government should improve its means for acquiring information on impacts and work to remove or clarify overlapping responsibilities between agencies for handling relief aid for problem areas such as home reconstruction and levee rebuilding.

• Public Understanding about Floods There is widespread misunderstanding about floods and their frequency. A flood-related educational program would bring rewards in understanding forecasts, warnings, and description of terms used by scientists and engineers, plus clearer recognition of the risks related to living and farming in floodplains. Government officials need to realize how affected citizens get disaster-related information (largely via TV) and utilize the broadcast media more effectively to disseminate information. The media has become the major source of information to victims and others interested in this form of natural hazard.

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