How Long Must We Wait For Effective Flood Protection?

Floodplain Management Australia

As the NSW flood crisis continues to unfold Floodplain Management Australia President Ian Dinham has praised the efforts of the NSW State Emergency Service, assisted by NSW Rural Fire Service members.

“With over 8,000 calls for assistance and more than 800 flood rescues from the mid-north coast to the Illawarra since the weather system started and more rain to fall in coming days, the emergency services volunteers will be exhausted, but still dedicated until of all this is over”, Mr Dinham said.

“Every time we have a natural disaster we rely on the SES to solve our problems instead of preparing for such events with better investment in preventative measures as recommended in last year’s Royal Commission into Natural Disasters report.”

“And each time the disaster subsides it is then up to the local councils to deal with the recovery and clean up at the expense of our local communities. Then we find our insurance premiums increase and the mums and dads pay for it again.”

Deloitte Access Economics estimates that natural disasters currently cost over $560 million per year and are forecast to rise to more than $39 billion per year in real terms by 2050.

Mr Dinham said for the past 60 years FMA has been advocating for government policies and strategies to focus on reducing future flood losses, rather than encouraging repeated repair and replacement of damaged buildings and infrastructure after floods.

“But governments come and go without seriously addressing the problem. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley in western Sydney, where evacuations are presently underway, is one such example. It has been described as Australia’s largest untreated flood exposure.

“With 60,000 people living on the floodplain below Warragamba Dam, which is currently spilling over, one has to ask how long must we wait for effective flood protection for the Hawkesbury-Nepean community?

“Australia needs a whole of government response to flooding as recommended in the 2014 Productivity Commission report on Natural Disaster Funding Arrangements.

“However, as we watch this current crisis we can only hope the SES and other emergency service personnel can continue to help people until it’s over and the television coverage goes back to normal. Then FMA will again seek to work with all levels of government to plan ahead for the next big flood disaster.”

Floodplain Management Australia brings together experts from across Australia and overseas to help build a more flood resilient nation. Members include over 170 councils, catchment management authorities, agencies, businesses, and professionals involved in urban and rural flood risk management.

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