accessibility & help

Flood responses

The headlines recently have been dominated by the devastating storms in the US and Caribbean, as well as the heavy monsoons in south Asia. While the emergency services do what they can, we’ll look at how ordinary citizens also step in to help, and the small acts of kindness that can make all the difference to those in need.

Suggested age range: 11–19

Curriculum links: Citizenship

Help after the flood

Extreme weather has been in the news a lot recently. Ask the young people what examples from different parts of the world they can think of, such as Hurricane Harvey that hit the United States, Hurricane Irma that landed in the Caribbean, and the monsoons in south Asia.

Display the image of a person being carried from their home down a flooded street in Houston, Texas. Explain that the hurricanes have caused severe flooding that has devastated communities. In Houston, for example, over 100,000 homes were affected and 30,000 people will be unable to return home. Many were left without power and stranded in their homes as the surrounding streets were flooded.

Put up large sheets of paper around the class with different headings:

  • Who needs help after a flood?
  • Who can help after a flood?
  • What help is needed after a flood?

Split the young people into three groups and give each group a set of sticky notes. Assign each group to one of the questions and ask them to write down their ideas on the sticky notes and stick them to their sheet of paper. Groups then move round to other sheets and see what others have written, adding ideas of their own.

Then show the young people this short video (2:32) about the response to Storm Harvey, from Channel 4 News. Ask the groups to add any more ideas to their original sheet. They may want to see the video a few times.

Some ideas that the video might prompt include:

  • Who needs help in a flood? Older people, nursing home residents, children, pregnant women, injured people, animals.
  • Who can help in a flood? Navy, charities, volunteers, local residents.
  • What help is needed in a flood? Airlifting people to safety, getting vulnerable people from their homes, helping people out of the water, transporting people to rescue centres, moving animals to safe areas.

Outside of class, ask the young people to think about people in their street or neighbourhood who might need help in a flood. Then think of any ways (big or small) that they and their family could help these people, safely, if their area was flooded. When they come back to the class, they can present their ideas to the group.

Citizens to be involved

As Texas was struck by heavy flood waters following Hurricane Harvey, a major rescue effort was launched. At a media conference, an administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that the government cannot do it all. “We need citizens to be involved,” said Brock Long.

In south Asia, the worst monsoon floods in decades have claimed thousands of lives and continue to devastate communities. More than 41 million people across Nepal, India and Bangladesh have been affected. An area roughly the size of the UK is under water.

Some ways that citizens offered help in the floods in south Asia appeared on social media. See, for example, the Twitter hashtag #rainhosts through which people in the city of Mumbai offered practical help. (Before showing this feed to your class, you may want to check that any newly added examples are appropriate.)

Here are some examples of #rainhosts tweets. Ask the groups to choose one and discuss:

  • How do the Twitter posts make the group feel?
  • How might the offers on Twitter have helped the community?
  • Is there anything people should consider, for instance in terms of personal safety, before responding to these offers?
  • What might motivate people to help others in need?

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Look at the “What help is needed in a flood?” sheet from the Help after the flood activity and identify actions that citizens can take to help. What other help can local people and the community provide? (For example, donations of goods and cash, places to stay or emotional support.)


This resource was written by P. J. White of Alt62 and published in September 2017.


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