Abstract

abstract:

In May 2018, exceptional flooding and subsequent landslides devastated western North Carolina. This growing region, with strong tourism and agriculture sectors, is projected to experience a greater risk of water-related threats due to rapid population growth and increased climatic variability. Recent events highlight the need for communities to have a better understanding of flooding and landslides to inform proactive policies for risk mitigation in western North Carolina. Through phone interviews with key informants from a variety of sectors in Buncombe and Watauga counties, we evaluated stakeholder experiences and perceptions relating to flooding and landslide events in 2018. Content analysis of those interviews highlighted environment and emergency response as common themes—revealing interests and concerns—among key informants. Other common themes include flooding risk, vulnerability, and mapping programs. Themes vary by county, highlighting the importance of local context with natural disasters. Stakeholders across all sectors placed significant emphasis on communication both within agencies and with the public. Identifying key themes illustrates gaps and concerns with communication. Armed with awareness of these gaps, policymakers may be better equipped to address policy shortcomings; communities can build on local experiences and expertise to prepare for future natural hazards.

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