One year after a torrential rainstorm left large areas of Copenhagen underwater, it comes as no surprise that a recent survey found that 45 percent of Danes are terrified by the thought of downpours.
Userneeds, a Copenhagen-based research company, carried the survey out for COWI, a consultancy firm.
The downpour that dropped 150mm of rain on the Copenhagen area on 2 July 2011 resulted in an estimated 5 billion in damage. Such extreme weather is expected to become more frequent as a result of climate change. In Denmark, the threat of heavy rainfall is highest in the summer, according to COWI.
This is a cause for concern for Danes, half of whom are worried about their homes flooding. Additionally, one in four homeowners have had water damage to their basements or attics in previous years, while 40 percent of apartment residents have been affected by water in their homes.
Floods pose the most serious threat to apartment dwellers in the city, where 61 percent have experienced water damage.
According to Henrik Winther, marketing director of COWI’s water and environment division, the distribution of damages caused by floods is not random.
Winther said that as a result of the prevalence of materials such as asphalt that are impermeable to water in cities, excess water is carried into the sewer system, which cannot handle the excess volume. In rural areas, water can seep into the ground. Homes in dense urban areas are therefore among the first to suffer when downpours strike.
“They are some of the first hit when the sewer system is overloaded,” Winther said. “Some also experience water in their apartments and their attics if there are leaks in the roof or blocked pipes.
Winther said that housing associations should take measures against future flooding.
KAB, a housing association that owns 50,000 rental properties in Greater Copenhagen, experienced damages of nearly 70 million kroner during last year’s dowpour, and has since learnt its lesson about being prepared.
According to client director Margrete Pump, the company has launched prevention efforts that include checking all properties for leaks and establishing a crisis unit.
The most important changes to prevent future catastrophic damage must involve an improved sewer system, according to Winther, who said that people’s concern about having their homes flooded would help keep the issue on the political agenda.
“If people are worried but no awareness is raised, then the politicians won’t be concerned.”