Crisis Communication of Local Authorities in Emergency Situations – Communicating “May Floods” in the Republic of Serbia
In May 2014 Serbia and the region of Southeast Europe were hit by the heaviest rain in 120 years of recorded weather measurements, which caused catastrophic floods and landslides. Nine cities and thirty one municipalities declared the state of emergency on their territory. The paper analyses crisis communications of city and municipal emergency management headquarters with different target groups, their relations with the media and the “high politics”, as well as the “lessons learned” which may be applied to new emergency situations. We observed crisis communication on both operative (functionality of the equipment, issuing orders and instructions to citizens etc), and on symbolic level (the shaping of meaning of the event and of the subjects’ actions). A particular attention was paid to the communication problems such as insufficiently trained communicators, inadequate equipment, limited time and excessive expectations, as well as to the analysis of the media reporting that was often politicized and sensationalist.
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