10 years and going strong? Coastal flood risk management in the wake of a major coastal event (the 2010 Xynthia storm, Charente Maritime, France)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionClimate Risk Management. 2022, 35, 100413. 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100413
2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the Xynthia storm that hit Western Europe at the end of February 2010. In France it triggered an unprecedented coastal flooding event, with most human and material damage concentrated on the Atlantic coast in the Vendée and Charente Maritime region. A range of reforms and measures followed to manage the risk of coastal flooding at the local and national levels. What conclusions can be drawn from these actions 10 years later? Did Xynthia mark a turning point in the doctrine of coastal flood risk management in France, in a similar way the 1953 storm and associated floods did for the Netherlands? To answer these questions we carried out a two-step analysis. First we compiled, classified and analysed all the recommendations and other “lessons learned” that were made public following the Xynthia storm. Second we looked into local risk management plans and strategies and conducted a series of semi-structured interviews in Charente Maritime to identify current flood risk mitigation practices. We analysed these in light of the identified recommendations. These analyses allow us both to take stock of the past ten years and to identify the acceleration effects attributable to storm Xynthia as well as the effects of lock-in and other elements hindering a more in-depth reform of coastal flood risk management in France. More importantly these analyses allow us to reflect on the process of stocktaking itself, its potential pitfalls and the need for the development of an analytical corpus. Learning to take stock of events that are considered “extraordinary” today is a necessary step to manage climate risks on the coast that are likely to become “ordinary” in the future.