AbstractResilience is defined as the capacity of a community to organise itself before, during and after a dangerous/hazardous event in order to minimise the impacts. A conceptual framework is proposed to assess the resilience of a community by understanding and integrating the institutional, legal and social capacities to cope and recover from a natural hazardous event in order to minimize the impacts in the short-term and to adapt to the risk in the long-term. A survey-based method and a specific resilience questionnaire is proposed to explore the perception of stakeholders regarding the risk and emergency management processes as well as psychological and social factors conditioning individual and community preparedness. The method is applied in a pilot area (the Dithmarschen district in the German North Sea Coast) for its validation before applying it to the entire Wadden Sea region, the pilot results being presented in this work. Although some questions may need some type of adaptation to fit adequately to other study sites, the conceptual and methodological framework could be applied worldwide. The study area and its population are characterized by their continuous interaction with the ocean, with the continuous transformation and reclamation of land for agricultural and other purposes, the constant reshaping of the coastline and frequent coastal inundation by storm surge flooding. The assessment allows identifying the main characteristics of the study area in terms of stakeholders' risk perception, intention to prepare, individual and societal behavioural patterns, as well as their opinion regarding authorities' decision-making on emergency and risk management. It also addresses potential improvement in emergency and risk management in terms of multi-sector partnerships and additional adaptation measures for the area. The deficiencies and incoherencies between society's and administration's answers detected in the analysis point towards the challenges to deal with, in order to foster an adequate community preparedness and adaptation to storm surge risk. Some of the results that the proposed method permitted to obtain in the study area show (i) the need for a better information strategy to enhance society's awareness and preparedness; (ii) the respondents' current proactive behaviour and preference on participatory risk management options, despite fully participatory schemes are not yet set by the authorities; (iii) the need for awareness campaigns regarding the relevance and benefits of the integrated approach in potential partnerships, and (iv) the need for tailored and site-specific adaptation instruments and measures due to the current society's disagreement with some of the options currently provided. The results are useful to improve risk reduction initiatives by means of including society's opinions from the beginning of the management process.