The City of Helsinki Flood Guide gives advise on how to prepare for floods

The instructions on Prevention and Control of Floods by the City of Helsinki, published in 2013, explains how the residents in Helsinki’s flood risk areas may protect their property from the flooding sea or inland waters. The guide clarifies how to prepare for floods in advance and what are the responsibilities of the resident, the estate owner and the leaseholder in a case of a flood. In a flood event, the self-imposed preparations by residents are hoped to benefit the whole city in addition to the residents.

The purpose of the new Flood Guide is to instruct how to prepare for various floods in advance and how to protect property if a flood occurs. The guide was posted to the residents in flood risk areas during the summer 2013, and positive feedback from it has already been received. The monitoring group of the Helsinki Flood strategy proposed compiling the guide. In their opinion it was deemed necessary that the estates in flood hazard areas are instructed for flood situations.

The coast of Helsinki metropolitan area has a high risk of flooding

The Flood Guide (City of Helsinki 2013)

Finland has avoided repetitive massive floods for now, but estimates show that larger floods will increase in numbers in the future due to the climate change. The greatest flood height measured in Helsinki so far was 170 cm, in January 2005 (N2000 height system). The ELY centre of Uusimaa region (centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) has defined the coastal area of Helsinki and Espoo as a high flood risk area. When assessing high flood risk areas, the probability of floods and their potential damages are taken into account.

During July 2013 The Flood Guides were posted to all properties located two meters up or lower from the coastal line. The Flood Guide is also available online and the electronic version will be updated regularly by the Helsinki City Planning Department. During autumn 2013 the recipients of the guide were given a survey. Based on its results, it will be reviewed how the guide can be further developed and if additional measures will be needed in order to share information.

The guide clarifies responsibilities during floods

The City of Helsinki hopes that clear instructions will encourage estates to carry out unprompted preparations for floods. For example if considering the capacity of the Helsinki City Rescue Department, the situation in the whole city will be easier during a flood if advance preparations have been carried out. The instruction also aimed to make the often insufficient knowledge on scope of responsibilities clearer: The city does not take part in the costs incurred due to the flood protection operations of private properties. The owner of the building and its residents are liable for all the costs. It is possible to receive compensation from insurance companies for damages caused by floods only if the building is insured against floods.

Similar Flood Guides have been published earlier at least on the Internet pages of the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Rescue Departments. Municipalities have not yet published many guides, but for example City of Rovaniemi has its own set of instructions, which were also used as the framework for the Helsinki Flood Guide.

Costs of the Flood Guide: €3,800 and office working hours

The Flood Guide is the result of a comprehensive cooperation between numerous departments of City of Helsinki. The costs included the printing of the guide (€3,199) and its mailing costs to approximately 700 buildings (à €0.85). In addition about 500 city-owned buildings are located in the flood risk areas, but the city of Helsinki has informed those separately. As the printing costs resulted in 20,000 guides, no further orders should be needed over the next following years. The contents and layout of the guide were done as office work.