Flood mitigation - preparing for the storm
Cyclone Debbie's impact on the Queensland coastline is a timely reminder of how quickly extreme weather events can materialise. Alongside the effects of gale force winds, the threat of flood can often have a broader impact radius as cyclones create riverine flooding, impacting communities sometimes hundreds of kilometres downstream.
Whether you're operating in the cyclone belt or not, it's important not to slip into a mindset of 'it won't happen to me'. A flood doesn't have to be a 1 in 100 year weather event or a dam inundation - it could be as simple as a stormwater blockage or debris building up in roof gutters. It you don't have a prevention plan in place you start out behind the eight ball.
The dreadful truth
In 2011, when the floods came to Brisbane, there was warning. Many organisations however did not have a functional flood mitigation plan in place, and as a result suffered greater losses than others with effective plans in place Loss situations were wide and varied. Examples include;
- Leaving high value contents in below ground areas (where all contents were destroyed),
- Leaving lift cars on the bottom level of buildings when they could have been sent to the top of buildings
- Having all essential services (electrical switchboards, fire pumps, generators) badly damaged from water as they were located in the lowest parts of the building;
- Not maintaining submersible pumps, resulting in the pumps failing to activate when water levels reached a certain height.
The truth is that you can't stop a loss, but you can certainly reduce the severity of a loss, and the potential interruption to your business, via practical risk management.
A flood mitigation plan will help you prepare for a flood event. It should be instructive and help ensure that your business can not only prepare for a flood, but also recover from this type of peril.
If your operations are within a flood prone area, it is important that you remain vigilant regarding Bureau of Meteorology alerts. It's also critical that sites in a defined flood zone have a prepared flood mitigation plan.
This should include:
- An overview of flood threat (potential impact from flood water)
- The facility's approach to flood response and protection
- Flooding scenarios
- Area maps
- Impact of floodwaters
- Flood response
- Action matrix (What is needed?)
- Description of required actions (What to do?)
- Staff assignment matrix (Who will do what?)
- Materials and supplies matrix (What to use?)
- Contractors List/Phone Numbers (Who to hire?)
- Security response
- Fire protection response
It's also important that tenants of leased premises connect with their landlords or building managers regarding flood response planning ahead of the event. This will ensure that any preventative measures are aligned with the sites overall response plan and capabilities.
The right coverage
In addition to having the appropriate mitigation plan, organisations need to clearly understand what type of cover they have and how it will respond in the event of storm damage versus a flood.
In general terms a flood is often defined as the release of water from a natural course such as a river, dam or stream onto otherwise dry land. This differs to storm water run-off which may be described as a body of water making its way to a water course.
Quality advice and assistance
If you don't have a flood mitigation plan in place, or want to assess if your premises are at risk, please contact Aon Risk Control and Engineering. Our team reviews and assesses property risks on a daily basis, offering practical advice to all types of clients. Make sure that you are prepared before it's too late!
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