Should we have sympathy for flood victims?


New member
Nov 29, 2013
Boy, that was the most "READ THE ORIGINAL POST FIRST" question ever. And having looked at it from this perspective, I can honestly say I agree with you. The people who move there and set up shop do so knowing the possibility of floods, more floods, and even more floods occurring.


New member
Jul 17, 2011
Hero in a half shell said:
As a planner all the blame should always be on the councils, building control and the builders for being so greedy as to greenlight these builds in floodplains, whilst ignoring adequate flood defenses.

The fault lies not with the people, they in most cases aren't warned of the danger, it's the fault of the city and builders for not building the house properly to withstand an ~expected~ disaster, merely because they want to do it on the cheap.


We can and SHOULD blame the city planners when they build in an area like:

1) New Orleans without the ability to withstand a Cat 5 hurricane that was assured to hit there sooner or later. Look at Holland, they've got safeguards out the wazzoo, New Orleans has zippo, crossed it's fingers and "hoped" Katrina would never come.

2) California without the ability to withstand earthquakes. Their building design has improved dramatically since the 1980s but city planners used to be horribly shortsighted in building frail structures on top of the silty land by the sea.

3) Tornado Alley without Cellers. (I understand there's a bit of difficulty due to soil conditions in Oklahoma City, still, the massive lack of Tornado basements/cellers/shelters is utterly astounding)


New member
Dec 26, 2012
KingsGambit said:
With that said, for the sake of discussion there is a part of me that wonders if sympathy is deserved in all these situations. To extend this beyond the UK, I will include people in poor countries also who live 10 miles away from water, those who live in earthquake or tornado prone areas and so on. People voluntarily opt to live in these areas. They knowingly choose these parts of the world to make their homes when there are more hospitable ones available.
Yeah, exactly, they all chose specifically to live near flood prone areas.

Just like all those silly people who choose to live in war-torn poor countries instead of moving the the first-world.

I mean, it's not like there's infrastructure in areas like San Fransico/Japan to deal with earthquakes and it's just the rare superpowered one that causes any actual damage.

Clearly we must cut all disaster relief, as it is totally the fault of the people who live there.


New member
May 17, 2010
To be honest, I have sympathy for victims. Full stop. "Victims" sort of says it all... If you are a victim of something, I will almost certainly have sympathy for you


The Ship Magnificent
Dec 30, 2011
I live in Toronto, a region that rarely sees natural disasters. Last summer, our basement flooded because the sewers were so overwhelmed with rain that they overflowed. The septic pipes also broke.

5 to 6 feet of sewage. In our house.

A lot of our family photo albums, toy chests that my grandfather made, toys, tvs etc. were down there. Gone.

I can tell you that we are going to sell the house when we can.

That being said, people are often stuck there because it's economically advantageous for them. Many just don't have the option to move. Even those better off can run into troubles. I can now tell you first-hand that we're effectively stuck here until the basement is repaired and is in good enough condition to sell. If insurance didn't cover it, we'd be outright fucked.

If another natural disaster were to afflict our house, we'd go back through the cycle again. It can take years to go through all that crap, so people can get stuck in a cycle as well.
Aug 1, 2010
This is the kind of thing that bugs me a bit in discussions, here especially so.

Yes. It is okay to have sympathy for them. But guess what? It's also completely okay to think they're idiots for living in these areas. This is how I've always felt about the Katrina victims in the US. They has massive amounts of warning, they were told to leave and they stayed. I think they were dumb. I also, however, have sympathy for them.

The issue of "Should" is also a bit silly. People feel what they feel. In terms of relief money, yes, they should be supported. That's where the sympathy aspect comes in.

This all or nothing, never blame a victim for anything ever attitude is just ridiculous. There's several other topics where this applies, but the whole thread would probably derail at the mere mention.


New member
Apr 2, 2008
These are the worst floods Britain's ever had in decades. Probably worst in living memory for a good proportion of those affected by them. Even if you live in an area that's technically "at risk", it's ridiculous to assume that this kind of thing can be "anticipated".

Living on floodplains = risk/reward, as many people have pointed out. But I think the current situation goes a bit beyond that. It'd be like asking an airport to fill a giant hanger with snow-blowers, on the off-chance that there'd be a combination hurricane-snowstorm. You can't "plan" for an event on this scale, because it hardly ever happens; and what would you do? Put dykes and giant pumps every fifty yards along the southern coastline? It's simply not practical to make provision for the absolute worst case scenario. You just try and deal with it as best you can, given the resources that you have, when it occurs.


Sane among the insane.
Sep 12, 2010
This is sort of flawed logic. I don't live in "Tornado Alley", but we do get them on occasion. I don't live in an area where we get hurricanes, but we've gotten the left overs (Weak Tropical Storms or very large and very angry thunderstorms that cover the entire state). I don't live in an earthquake prone area, but I know we've had some minor ones in some areas. I don't live in an area where flooding is prone to happening, but we do get some. (My cousin has to have Flood Insurance as his house is near a creek)

I don't even live in an area that gets snow, but we've had some just recently. About 3 inches. Haven't had that much snow since 1993! Shut down the state and my job was closed for a day and a half. We're bracing for heavy ice and possibly snow again tomorrow. Last year I had to have $3000 of repair on my car due to hail damage.

The point is, you can't avoid every possible thing that could happen. I doubt there is anyplace free of any possible danger. Sure, you may wonder why someone lives near the Atlantic Ocean when they live in an area prone to hurricanes, but do you really want them to live in fear of something possibly happening?


New member
Jun 24, 2011
Just packing up and moving away is much much easier said than done. Not everyone has the financial means to live elsewhere and the ones that do often have jobs, family, spouses/romantic partners, friends and such in their hometowns. Sometimes it just makes more sense to prepare for these events rather than uprooting your life due to the possibility that some force of nature will wreck your home.

The jobs one is especially big; if you specialize working in an industry that is local to a high risk area (say an off-shore oil rig off the coast of California or something) you might have a very difficult time finding a job that will pay the same elsewhere.

Also consider that A very large portion of the world's population lives near coastal areas (which are prone to disasters(damn you Poseidon!!))because the biggest cities tend to have major harbors (because trade and economics and such). Should we just start taking our cities and moving them somewhere else?



Je suis joined jewels.
Jan 19, 2009
What a horrible line of thinking.

Literally EVERYWHERE is a "danger zone" in one form or another. Heck, as far as I can tell, I live in the "safest" location in North America (northern prairies) and even we have people freezing to death from massive temperature plunges yearly.


New member
May 11, 2009
Unless someone's sole reason for living in the area was "for the thrill of living in a dangerous area", then yes I feel sympathy when something bad happens to them. Even if they "knew the risks", it's still a very small probability of disaster in most areas. And there's really no such thing as a 100% safe location. Even if you're not living in an area with regular natural disasters, you're still susceptible to less probable things like meteor strikes, fires, etc. and entitled to sympathy if such unlikely disasters occur.

In fact, the more overpopulated the Earth becomes, the more people that will be living in higher risk areas. Hell, what happens if the ice caps melt and flood coastal you blame the billions of people living near the coasts?


New member
Oct 10, 2012
Living on earth is living with the risk of natural disasters. Well I agree that some places people live is a little bit foolish, they still deserve unconditional sympathy and support in the event of a disaster. Also the rebuilding process is a chance to rebuild in a way that may prevent future destruction. An example would be New Orleans, as others had said, large sections of the down town are built on land below sea level. They rebuilt the dykes higher and stronger which is good, but we know that sea levels will likely rise (how much is open to debate). So maybe it would've been a better idea for New Orleans to rebuild on higher ground, at the cost of centuries of history.

That's the rub, there is a cost to everything, you move people to higher ground, they lose their history. The majority of the world's fertile farmland are rich because of floods volcanic activity have created nutrient loaded soil. And of course America's bread basket is also tornado alley. People have to live and work in farmland to feed all of us humans. People also need clean water to drink, you look around the world, nearly all major cities are built next to a body of water. Well bodies of water have the ability to flood, rivers especially. We could all move our cities miles away, but then we'd have to pump water that much further. And that is only a solution that works in a nation with money to spend on that. Millions upon millions of people are too poor to be able to afford any such solution.

The best we can do is mitigate the most obvious risks, and prepare to help in the next disaster. The destruction nature can inflict is both awesome and heart-breaking. But in the tragedy of a disaster area, we can see the best of humanity, when we see people selflessly helping their neighbours. When we see outsiders come into an area to help the afflicted, help the injured. Disaster do bring out some of the best qualities in people as well, including our sympathy without judgement.


New member
Jan 26, 2013
Um, yeah. Why wouldn't you? People don't ask to have those things happen to us. People who live in Japan or the West coast of the US don't want to be in an earthquake prone area. We in the Gulf Coast don't want to be in a hurricane prone area. We just want to go about our days with as little shit happening to us as possible.

Even if people don't want to live in a "whatever" prone area, moving is a long, hard, and costly process for a lot of people. Having sympathy for people that had bad things happen to them, even if you feel it's deserved, is just having empathy for people.

tl;dr: Sympathy isn't a finite resource, give it out as much as you can.


May 1, 2008
I thought this very briefly as a kid, then it was pointed out to me by my mother that there is nowhere on this earth that is simultaneously devoid of earthquakes,floods,hurricanes,tornadoes,drought,avalanches,tsunamis,blizzards/snowstorms, volcanoes etc...

In other words, yes, yes we should have sympathy for these people, because tomorrow YOU could be that person, and you would want help if suddenly you had no home or possessions through no fault of your own other than the home you chose to live in (if it was even a choice).

Here where I live we have to worry about volcanoes and earthquakes, but if I move to Nevada I will have to worry about droughts and heat waves. If I move to New York, I have snowstorms and floods or even hurricanes. Kansas has tornadoes. Seriously, to blame people for their plight based on their geographical location is just ignorant.


New member
Mar 20, 2009
Victim blaming brought to flooding now? Anyway, with regards to the latest floods (in the UK), there are 2 main causes;

- construction companies flogging cheap housing to 1st time buyers/poorer people because they can and the people have no choice but too take a risk.
- the severity and regularity of flooding has increased rapidly over the last 25 years so what used to be a perfectly safe place is now in a "flood-risk" zone, these zones have increase in size and number as flooding gets worse (and as insurance companies want more money).

Anecdote; The thing is, most people near where I live (nr. Tewkesbury) are used to seeing the Severn burst it's banks and flood the local pitches and cover some of the roads, this was regular and manageable for a long time. The odd few houses would get hit but it was rarely a major disaster (often wouldn't even make national news) so people just got on with things and took it, as well as they could, in their stride. Now, almost year on year, housing in Tewkesbury is underwater to some degree. It's not so much that people are moving into flood-risk areas but more than flood-risk areas are moving into previously safe towns & villages.

EDIT; Just thought of something else. While I can see where the OP's thought process has gone here I think it's flawed. The only sane reason I can see for blaming a victim of anything (crime/disaster) is if they were really asking for it, as if they wanted it too happen, eg. an insurance scam that failed. Yes the risks are there for people moving into these zones but they don't want this to happen, they dread it. And I think making the jump from this to the victims not deserving sympathy is just callous. Some people did take a risk, it backfired, but they never wanted it and now their homes are ruined. You could fairly go with "I told ya so" but they're still deserving of help and sympathy (especially when people are driving to these places and looting the abandoned flooded houses).


Leaf on the wind
Feb 20, 2011
In most of these places you describe, there's a balance of risk vs reward to consider. Most of what I assume you would consider 'safe' places to live, are not very attractive ones from any other standpoint, primarily because the landscape is never being refreshed by geographical change. The most fertile soils on earth are found more often than not in seismically unstable regions, particularly those of the volcanic variety. Most cities in the world have risen on coastlines and on the backs of large rivers, because water is the font of life on earth, and very, very few forms of life can thrive without easy access to lots of it. Hell, if the human race had followed your line of thinking, avoiding any area of settlement that is at risk from severe flooding, nobody ever would have set up shop on the banks of the Nile, and civilisation as we know it would never have happened.

You're also making the idea of relocating entire families and livelihoods to safer locations sound a lot more feasible than it is. Millions of people live in the South of England, most of which is very low lying (and getting lower all the time thanks to tangential geological reasons I'm not going to get into right now) and prone to flooding (surprise surprise, you also find the majority of England's most fertile land here). Are you suggesting that there should be an exodus of millions of people to Yorkshire? I'm actually not sure who would be more opposed to that idea, us, or the people who already live in Yorkshire...

If there's anyone to blame for these recent floods, it's mercenary property developers who insist on unchecked building on all the southern flood plains, so that the water has nowhere to drain when we get heavy rains such as this; as well as the government for a) letting them, and b) not putting the necessary resources into flood defences when they do. Even then though, it's not as if they are unaware or uncaring of the problem. It's an occupational hazard of living on a small island with an expanding property market. The people who certainly are not at fault though, are the people who 'choose' to live in these areas, and have their homes and livelihoods destroyed because the climate decides it's going to rain solidly for a month and a half.

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
I love how Florida gets a bad rep for hurricanes, but people ignore the fact that Texas has the worst record for strikes in the country.
Since 1851 -
Florida: 110 total (35 Cat. 3-5)
Texas: 273 total (92 Cat. 3-5)

OT: People don't always choose where they live by hazardous weather/geology. Most of them do it because its cheaper. Plus, as others have pointed out, no matter where you live there's always risk of something. Hell I live in Florida, and aside from hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding, we've had a handful of earthquakes in the past few years I actually noticed. Granted they were minor, but it felt really out of place.


New member
May 21, 2011
kurokotetsu said:
I live ina an earthwwuake prone zone, we've had severe tragedies beacuse of it and yet I live here why? Because even if I wnated I DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.
I was watching some Animal Planet show awhile back about swarms of things living in people's houses. The story always went something like "We saw this great house right next to my spouse's job, which was super awesome. It was totally affordable, too, which was weird, but we didn't have a billion dollars to live next door, so we took it. Then we found out about the hideous, unstoppable swarms of ants/cockroaches/rats/snakes/raccoons/whatever, but we didn't have enough money to move. Cue suffering, health problems, then going into debt to escape." No one lives in some obvious trap plagued by floods, quakes, hurricanes, landslides, or whatever because they're too stupid to think to move. They live there because they can afford it, and nowhere else.

OP, want to blame someone for wasting your tax money? How about blame the people who decided to build housing there, knowing they were going to inevitably have to pay to bail people out when it floods? 'Cause I guarantee the people moving into that housing are looking at the price and saying "Whelp, life's gunna suck when this floods, but maybe I'll get a better job before then."


New member
Dec 4, 2008
KingsGambit said:
This is [] an example of what I'm talking about. Local councils have greenlit development on floodplains, knowingly, ignoring warnings from the EA. Anyone who buys a home there will be living in an area almost certain to suffer from flooding and do so in full knowledge of this fact.
It's not that I don't trust media hype but what flood plane are they on?(and no saying it flooded every year for the past 5 years dose not count, as that is not how it works)
If it is a 1,5,10 year flood plane then yes you have a right to be angry, 20+ year flood plane you could still say they are at risk but there comes a point when you just have to accept the risk of living in your area.

I think you will find it's less likely to flood then the news report will let on, as I don't think anyone would move building materials into an area that has that high of a chance of flooding before the building is done.

Jamieson 90

New member
Mar 29, 2010
Eamar said:
Jamieson 90 said:
I have sympathy for people in most situations and scenarios, but if you KNOWINGLY CHOOSE i.e. buy and move into a house WHILST FULL WELL KNOWING that you'll be living in an area that is at HIGH RISK of FLOODING, and where there have been floods in the past, then I find it hard to be sympathetic in that case. However I'm sure there are many situations where that's not the case i.e. I don't think that 7 year old boy who died in Somerset chose to live there for example, nor can you help it if you're too poor to move or can only afford housing in certain areas.
I grew up in Somerset, very near to some of the areas that are currently flooded, and my family still live there. This has never happened to anything like this extent before in my lifetime. Unless you're saying no one should live near rivers (or the sea), I don't really see what your point is. It's not like this is a regular occurrence; it's newsworthy because it's unusual.
My point is if you CHOOSE as in you knowingly decide to live in a flood area, then you shouldn't be surprised when you get flooded, even if it is a rarity. As I said of course that doesn't apply to everyone; you can't help where you grow up etc and sometimes people can't move away etc etc. I was aiming my point more at people who buy homes in known flood areas.