The current rainfall events in New South Wales and Queensland have taken the country by surprise and have caused unprecedented flooding in many areas of both states. Floodwaters have inundated houses, schools, and businesses, and have led to many having to wait for rescue from the roofs of their homes. Some reservoir and dam levels have reached 150-200% capacity, with continued water releases not even enough to reduce the surrounding flooding. The Queensland Premier even referred to the events in a press conference as like those of “cyclonic conditions”. So, what caused this weather event, and what are the risks that major flooding can pose to a community? 

 The weather system that brought this rainfall is a low-pressure system, meaning it carries precipitation and cloud cover with it. While this particular system has been very slow moving, the main reason for this ‘rain bomb’ over Queensland and New South Wales is what meteorologists term a ‘blocking system’. A blocking system prevents the usual movement of weather systems from west to east. When combined with a very slow-moving, low-pressure system, a blocking system can lead to rain events remaining almost stationary, as seen over northern NSW and southern QLD. This leads to much larger amounts of rain battering the affected regions than expected. Many experts have also attributed this unprecedented level of rain to the effects of climate change, with warming climates generally resulting in more moisture being soaked up into the air. Additionally, the La Niña weather event that Australia is currently experiencing is known to increase the average amount of rainfall over the summer period. Flooding events such as these can pose many threats to communities, and can lead to injuries, fatalities and destruction of infrastructure. 

Many people are unaware of how much damage floodwaters can cause. Floodwaters can move rapidly, and even when the water level appears to be rather low, the water can be powerful enough to wash away cars, heavy debris and people. Rapid waters can make it difficult to escape from a rising flood, with cars being able to float in water at a depth as low as 15 cm. The current flooding events in Queensland resulted in a fatality due to a car being swept away with the driver stuck inside the vehicle. The dangers that floodwaters pose cannot be understated. 

Avoiding contact with floodwater itself is also important. Floodwaters generally carry parasites and bacteria due to the mix of sewage, soil and other pollutants that are found in floodwaters. Such pathogens can cause gastroenteritis, leptospirosis, cellulitis and golden staph. Floodwaters can also become polluted due to garbage and deceased animal matter, making infections caused by bacteria in the water potentially deadly. Keeping your body, in particular your hands, face and any open wounds, covered and protected from the water is key to avoiding infection.  

 

Protecting your business 

Leaving it to chance with a natural disaster is not a situation you want to hedge your bets on. Extreme flooding, particularly in Queensland and low-lying coastal areas, is a constant possibility, and little can be done to stop it. Preparation is key to shielding your business from potential disruptions, and natural disasters are no exception. A disaster management plan can mean the difference between your business surviving a disaster and recovering quickly, and closing altogether. Ensuring that your business’ disaster management plans are up to date is crucial, as outdated plans can fail to address key processes and newer services and operations that have been added to the business. 

Disaster management planning involves considering all potential disasters that may impact your business and its operations, and putting processes and procedures in place to ensure that your staff are equipped with the essential tools needed to navigate a possible disaster. An effective response to a disaster can also aid in business continuity, and improvements made to your business’ resilience can help to increase its longevity and reduce susceptibility to disasters and other disruptions. 

Is your business in need of disaster management planning services? Our experienced team at Resilient Services can help. See how we can make your business stronger, smarter and more secure.