How can traditional research techniques accurately, yet sensitively and dispassionately capture the impact of a traumatic event on the lives of ordinary people? How do you begin to disentangle a complex, unique and emotionally charged natural disaster before converting it in to a piece of convincing and powerful reportage that will be open to national scrutiny? How do you persuade people who have had their lives literally turned upside down and been made homeless to attend discussion groups to share their experiences? These were just a few of the questions addressed by qualitative research conducted on behalf of the UK Government's department responsible for civil contingencies, designed to explore people's experiences of the severe floods that took place across England in the summer of 2007. This paper will describe how qualitative research met the dual challenge of influencing at a senior level in government, whilst allowing the real story of those affected to shine through. This paper demonstrates how traditional qualitative research methods can be combined with respondent-created images and video footage to provide powerful and evocative research evidence.