Floods 2022: Past experiences to improve future safety

Researchers ask for personal stories to ensure community support in weather crises

In the wake of a series of rolling weather-related disasters in the first half of 2022, and forecasts of yet another La Nina pattern to impact southern Queensland in the coming months, preparedness has never been more vital.

Now researchers from the University of Southern Queensland are working to make sure lessons from early 2022 can be applied to protect communities in the firing line in late 2022, and beyond.

University of Southern Queensland emergency communications expert Dr Barbara Ryan will collaborate with Natural Hazards Research Australia, Macquarie University and the Queensland University of Technology to learn from the experiences of those affected by flooding this year to gather vital insights on how people reacted to the preparedness, response and recovery stages of floods.

“Our goal is to interview as many people as we can from Western Downs, Southern Downs, Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley regional council areas, online or by phone in August, or in person in September,” Dr Ryan said.

“The results of this research will be used by agencies to understand what communities need at certain stages of the disaster, and what obstacles people faced in reducing the impact, getting information during the events, and then recovering from the floods.”

Lead researcher and occupational psychologist Associate Professor Mel Taylor, from Macquarie University, said every story was important and encouraged people affected to get involved.

“Each individual experience is unique and can help make a difference during future floods. By contributing your personal experience to this research, you can help improve community safety strategies and influence future policy,” she said.

“You may have had to evacuate quickly due to rising floodwaters, or perhaps you put your flood plan into practice, but the floodwaters didn’t come to your house.

“We want to hear about a wide range of experiences.”

The independent research is funded by Natural Hazards Research Australia and supported by the New South Wales State Emergency Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, but the results of the research will be used to inform strategies to improve flood safety right across Australia.

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