Frequent urban flooding poses a predominant challenge to resilience managers and the public in inland cities. Nevertheless, various facets of the formation, development, and response to inland flooding in developing countries are still less understood. Using the statistics data of typical flood events in China, the paper examines the causes of devastation in inland areas of the north combined with a comprehensive risk assessment methodology and explores a nuanced understanding of resilience. The conclusions reveal that the inland cities of northern China are facing an imminent threat from escalating flood hazards. 11% of the flood-influenced population and 17% of the disaster-caused economic losses are concentrated in the region. Increased extreme precipitation, heightened exposure and vulnerability, and a sluggish human response to crises are the main factors contributing to these complex disasters. The study also proposes a transformative flood resilience framework for inland flooding from three dimensions, emphasizing the integration of human responses. The three aspects of the framework are summarized based on the driving factors mentioned earlier and a simplified multidimensional perspective of resilient cities, reflecting the adaptive and evolutionary features of resilience. Hence, incorporating resilience strategies is a relatively practical approach for urban flood risk management in inland regions.

  • A resilience framework is presented here to mitigate inland flooding.

  • Flood resilience is preferably viewed as a flexible symbol.

  • Inland cities are facing an increasing challenge of flooding.

  • Human response is one of the leading causes of flooding in inland cities.

  • The devastating inland floods also provide an opportunity for policymakers.

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