During Typhoon Morakot which hit Taiwan from 6 to 9 August, 2009, Kaohsiung City was highly affected by devastating debris-flows and flooding. Recorded casualties were 699 deaths and 1,766 damaged homes, mostly in the mountainous areas of Kaohsiung City. Due to a largely malfunctioning or absent early-warning system, residents in those mountainous villages were required to rely on individual- and/or community-based capacities to evacuate and respond to debris-flow-related disasters. Hence, this study investigates the response behaviour of selected debris-flow-affected communities in Kaohsiung City, based on a preparedness awareness action and affect model. Key results from the survey highlight that only 13.8 % of the households received formal (institutional) early warning, whereas 86.2 % households had to rely on their intrinsic senses and indigenous knowledge to recognise the onset of debris-flows in their villages during Typhoon Morakot. Among those households who did not receive formal early warning, 10 % of the households received previous disaster education, 17 % had previous disaster experience, and 73 % did have neither disaster education nor disaster experience. Furthermore, households with disaster education were among those who were best prepared and knew best how to evacuate and respond to debris-flow-related disasters followed by households with disaster experiences. Finally, findings from the survey and selected key informants’ interviews identified that the response behaviour of communities ought to be enhanced through the following measures: conduction of hydro-meteorological-related disaster education, improved participatory risk communication and enhanced recognition of communities as vital actors during a disaster to provide local knowledge and support to relief operations.
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