This paper presents a method to include damage at the initial stage of coastal flooding events definition and in return periods computation. The methodology is illustrated within a local study carried out in Biarritz Grande Plage, a meso-tidal, wave dominated beach located on the french basque coast in the south west of France. The work is based on two datasets covering the period 1949-2015 : a first one, consisting of observation and synthetic data on wave characteristics and water level, and a second one, gathering storm dates and related damage intensities obtained through investigations in the press and in archives. A statistical analysis was first carried out to find the best combination of source variables explaining the reported damages for the identified storms. Maximal, mean and accumulated values were calculated over storm duration, considering source and aggregated variables based on the empirical run-up formula or the wave energy flux. Most rules combining a wave parameter and water level are found to provide satisfactory damage prediction as soon as maxima variables are considered. Rules based on mean variables are less accurate and those based on accumulated variable values are not relevant. The best results are obtained with the wave energy flux and water level maxima over the storm duration. The ability of the rules to be used as generic event definition rules is then tested by performing a retrospective analysis on the whole dataset, checking their efficiency in detecting historical storms (i.e., with damages) without finding too many false positives. Most of the rules formerly studied, except the ones using wave period only as wave parameter, were able to correctly perform this task. Coastal flood event return periods (RP) were then calculated by applying three of the best rules identified previously. The rule using non simultaneous maxima of wave energy flux and water level gives encouraging results for the RP values. Nevertheless, the discrepancy still observed among the different rules calls for further work in this direction.