Enabling Mitigation to Reduce Loss from Disasters and Quicken Community Recovery

WCCIH | Enabling Mitigation to Reduce Loss from Disaster and Quicken Community Recovery

Background

This research project focuses on identifying better ways to prepare our community and businesses in the lead up to a severe weather event. Modelling undertaken by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO predicts that the Queensland region will experience a greater number of high intensity storms (stronger wind speeds and heavier rainfall systems) in the future. Therefore, it's important for local government to adequately plan and improve recovery from cyclones. Actions taken one to two days before a tropical cyclone hits, and in the days after, can create a significant financial burden on those that undertake them. Yet, last-minute preparation and response forms an integral part of emergency management, enhancing the ability to safeguard both life and assets.

What?

Modelling predicts that the Queensland region will experience a greater proportion of high intensity storms in the future meaning that local governments need to adequately plan and improve recovery from cyclones. 

How?

Information will be collected via surveys with members of the community who experienced Cyclone Debbie and felt like they took actions to reduce the impact of the cyclone on their home or business, or who will take different actions when the next tropical storm hits. 

Who?

Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub has partnered with James Cook University to undertake this research and propose solutions to local government.  The project is funded by the Monsoon Trough Grant funding.

Aims

This project aims to provide recommendations to:

  • Help communities be more prepared for disaster
  • Enhance cyclone resilience to reduce damage and loss 
  • Assist fast community recovery

Get Involved

If everyone takes the right actions in the lead up to storm events it can reduce loss and ensure our community recovery as quick as possible. For information on how to prepare for next cyclone season see Council's Disaster Preparedness information.

To find out more about the project, please contact the  Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub on 1300 972 753 or via email at ClimateHub@whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au.

Results 

Key messages include:

  1. There is limited literature on small businesses and how to prepare for disasters and often home prep is prioritised over business preparation
  2. Most businesses have building (if owned) and contents insurance and business interruption insurance
  3. Most businesses have asset registers and take photos of stock before events.
  4. Businesses that operate paperless were agile in being able to work from home or set up elsewhere and did not risk losing client and account info
  5. A shift in thinking about preparedness as an activity done outside the immediate lead up to an event, may facilitate the performance of more demanding mitigation activities.
  6. Business owners, as a group, performed non-structural, rather than structural mitigation actions in their preparation for STC Debbie. Of the few that owned their premises being a workshop with large roller doors, they took mitigation action by bracing their roller doors. 
  7. Most business owners did not own their operating premises. This was the most frequently offered reason for not performing structural mitigation activities.
  8. Most business owners reported that non-structural activities such as gutter and drain clearing was not performed by their landlords in the lead up to STC Debbie.
  9. Landlords as a group are not included in investigations of barriers and facilitators of property preparation for extreme events. Investigations of these issues for this group would benefit the design and implementation of future preparedness programs.
  10. Water ingress was a major part of the damage caused by STC Debbie  – here are the key messages for businesses:
    • Make sure gutters and drains are cleared before storm season
    • If you have property or road drains at a similar level and near your doors, sandbagging at the doors may reduce damage to your business.  Get familiar with sandbagging methods before storm season - QFES have details on effective sandbagging methods.
    • Regular maintenance inspections should be made of roofs, flashings and attachments such as vents, air conditioners and solar panels to make sure not degraded by corrosion or UV etc.  Any maintenance, repairs or upgrades should be carried out to meet current building requirements.
    • The most effective method of reducing wind driven rain via windows and doors is to use wind rated cyclone shutters. This has the added benefit of mitigating wind driven debris entering into the building and providing added security to the property.
    • If shutters are not available, use plastic sheeting to reduce water ingress via windows and doors (a strip of plastic sheet taped on the inside of the window sill. This strip of thin plastic increased the height of the window sill, caught the water and allowed it to drain back out of the house via the weep holes. A step by step guide for installation of plastic to reduce wind driven rain ingress through windows and doors is available on JCU's website.