With major flooding events on Australia’s eastern seaboard becoming seemingly more frequent and ferocious in recent years, there’s never been a better time to consider how governments and businesses can take steps to mitigate the impact of disasters on their communities.
When billions of dollars of damages often occur in a matter of days, it’s important to take both pre and post-disaster measures, in order to mitigate the impact of major disasters such as flooding, bushfires, and cyclones.
Here are just some of the measures that businesses and governments can take to address the impact of natural disasters on their communities.
Have an Emergency Response Plan in place
It’s a very good idea to have a broad Emergency Response Plan in place. Modern tools such as emergency alert systems provide a variety of ways to engage with the community as a disaster is occurring.
Pre-emptive campaigns, such as the Live Bush Fire Ready program, empower community members to be aware and alert of the potential for disasters in their community, as well as have their own plans in place.
Regularly reviewing and updating your Emergency Response Plan is a good way to keep both your employees informed, and your business prepared, just in case the worst does strike.
Conduct routine asset surveys and keep detailed records of public assets
One crucial measure that all councils should take to manage disaster risk is to keep detailed logs of the public assets present in their communities. This can often be a significant task, with many council areas across regional and rural Australia often containing assets over hundreds or even thousands of square kilometers of roads and other assets.
The sheer volume of assets within councils can take a significant amount of time and staff to manage, maintain and review. Utilizing modern tools such as a dilapidation survey report can support councils in building and maintaining detailed records of assets such as road surfaces and street signs. This can then enable councils to identify areas that are in most need following disasters.
This will also assist in lodging insurance claims after a major event such as a flood. Being aware of the conditions that roads are in both before and after disasters can enable more accurate and prompt reporting to insurance agencies, reducing the risk of under-claiming severely damaged assets. This can also work as a preventative measure for secondary events such as landslides.
Consider mitigation measures in the community.
While councils and governments can take steps to address the impacts of disasters after they happen, it’s just as important to consider preventative measures to reduce the potential for damage and destruction in communities.
It’s critical that councils keep up to date with the latest planning regulations and consider additional steps to develop more resilient structures within the community.
For example, risk mitigation measures could include ensuring that new community halls are built away from flood zones. This is so that these facilities to be used as disaster response centers during and after a crisis.
Ultimately, it’s going to be all about managing contextual risk, in line with the Emergency Response Plan you have in place. For example, when building disaster response facilities in Sydney, you may need to prepare for flood or fire, whereas developing disaster resilient infrastructure in say, Los Angeles may have a different set of needs altogether.
Don’t be demoralized after a disaster.
Recovering from a disaster can be time-consuming, depressing, and demoralizing. It can often take many years to recover from such life-changing events – for example, bushfires that impacted the Northern Rivers of New South Wales had a lasting impact, two years on.
Don’t be disheartened by the rebuild. Communities will undoubtedly recover over time and the work that councils, businesses, and governments are mission-critical to that. The best thing councils and governments can do to support their communities immediately after a disaster is simply to be present and available.
By considering and implementing the measures above, you may be able to reduce the impact that floods and bushfires have on your community. Ultimately, by taking these steps discussed in this report, you’ll enable your community to respond faster and more effectively to crises at hand, and potentially reduce the future risk to lives and livelihoods.
I’d love to hear about some of the measures your community has taken to react to the risk of disasters. Do you have an Emergency Response Plan in place, or are you conducting asset surveys regularly? I’m looking forward to reading your comments below.