Urban impact assessment and emergency response to flooding in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Thesis DisciplineWater Resource Management
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Water Resource Management
The determination of urban resilience and community response to flooding are significant aspects of hazard management and disaster risk reduction. Anticipating hazard impacts is vital to the development of flood mitigation strategies and emergency response planning. Argentina is an emerging economy with high flood hazard exposure, and its capital, Buenos Aires, is one of the most affected areas. Inappropriate disaster response could therefore affect food supply chains, telecommunications and transport systems nationwide. Flood risk areas in Buenos Aires City have been geographically identified. However, flood impacts have not been well considered, and the emergency response capacity of the city has not been evaluated. This research examined flood impacts in Buenos Aires on infrastructure lifelines and critical facilities, as well as on the wider commercial and residential built environment under current conditions, and accounting for projected impacts of climate change. Evacuation dynamics were explored through characterising spatiotemporal population exposure, modelling evacuation routes, and analysing emergency service response areas. Analyses of different sea-level rise and storm return interval scenarios showed clear trends in increasing impacts under increasing hazard intensities; these impacts were ameliorated when flood warnings were applied. Spatiotemporal population exposures developed for evacuation analyses showed increasing impacts under increasing sea-level rise scenarios. Dynamic evacuation analyses highlighted inadequacies in current welfare facilities to shelter evacuees, however modelling suggests that shelter and emergency response can both be improved by increasing the number of facilities. This research contributes to the quantification of impacts on the built environment and associated economic losses, and helps inform disaster response and management. The methodological approach presented here provides an analytical framework for flood impact analyses and evacuation dynamics that can inform other flood-exposed cities globally.