A Comprehensive Methodology for Evaluating the Economic Impacts of Floods: An Application to Canada, Mexico, and the United States

Xin Wen, Ana María Alarcón Ferreira, Lynn M. Rae, Hirmand Saffari, Zafar Adeel, Laura A. Bakkensen, Karla M.Méndez Estrada, Gregg M. Garfin, Renee A. McPherson, Ernesto Franco Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In 2020, we developed a comprehensive methodology (henceforth, the methodology) to assess flood-related economic costs. The methodology covers direct damages, indirect effects, and losses and additional costs across 105 social, infrastructure, economic, and emergency response indicators. As a companion paper, this study presents findings from analysis of applying the methodology to investigate economic costs for major flood events between 2013 and 2017 and to assess gaps in the existing datasets across Canada, Mexico, and the United States. In addition, we conducted one case study from each country for an in-depth examination of the applicability of the methodology. Applying the methodology, Mexico showed the most complete flood indicator data availability and accessibility among the three countries. We found that most flood-related economic cost assessments evaluated only direct damages, and indirect effect data were rarely included in datasets in the three countries. Moreover, few of the records from Canada and the United States captured the losses and additional costs. Flood-related economic cost data at the municipal or county level were easily accessible in Mexico and the United States. Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters (Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres), unique among the three nations, provided access to centralized and comprehensive flood cost data. In the United States and Canada, data collection by multiple agencies that focus on different jurisdictions and scales of flood damage complicated comprehensive data collection and led to incomplete economic cost assessments. Our analysis strongly suggests that countries should aim to expand the set of data indicators available and become more granular across space and time while maintaining data quality. This study provides significant insights about approaches for collating spatial, temporal, and outcome-specific localized flood economic costs and the major data gaps across the three countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14139
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • data accessibility and availability
  • flood economic impact
  • tri-national assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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