Natural disasters have slowly started frequenting the Australian continent due to environmental factors such as climate change. The bushfires from early 2020 have left the country reeling and are indicative of further calamities to come. The severe floods in March this year are a testament to this, with Sydney experiencing its worst flooding in 60 years.
The total property damage was estimated to be more than A$ 1 billion. It is important to mitigate losses due to property damage, but cost-effective solutions are required in case of unprecedented disasters. The floods saw an increase in demand for decontamination, sterilisation and pipe relining in Sydney.
So, what are the appropriate measures to be taken in the event of a flood? Is it possible to keep damage costs to a minimum? Is Australia well equipped to deal with these situations in the future?
Certain practices can help one prepare for a flood. These can be divided into three categories- pre-flood, during a flood and post-flood. It is essential to consider the dangers of flooding as they are unpredictable and can even strike regions that experience low precipitation.
Learning about and implementing flood-appropriate behaviours can reduce damage costs by millions of dollars. It also ensures that everyone is safe and healthy. Some recommendations regarding steps one should take during a flood are as follows –
- Understand weather patterns and potential flood risks of the area.
- Stay informed about flood evacuation and relocation plans by contacting the authorities.
- Prepare an emergency kit.
- Get covered for insurance against floods.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers handy.
- Listen to radio warnings and broadcasts made by the Monitor Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).
During a flood
- Remove/ find an alternative to carpets.
- Secure food, warm clothing, personal papers, medicines and valuables in waterproof bags.
- Refrain from venturing into waters of unknown depths and currents.
- Switch off electricity, water and gas supplies to the house.
- Secure hazardous items, electrical appliances, furniture and clothing in high places.
- Leave refrigerator doors open to minimise damage.
- Place sandbags over drainage covers and the toilet bowl to prevent sewage backflow.
- Stay away from food that has been in floodwater and boil tap water for drinking purposes.
- Drain the water out from the house in stages.
- Dehumidify and ventilate the house as soon as possible.
- Check if electrical appliances are safe to use by contacting local utility services.
- Remove dirt and debris from the house. Break out drywall and wood panelling up to at least 50 inches above the high water line.
- Call services (usually covered under good insurance policies) to clean, sterilise and decontaminate the house. It is also very important to remove mould that may have formed during the flood.
- Check for broken pipes in the house and the neighbourhood. Fortunately, high-end services for pipe relining in Sydney are now available. These services utilise the latest technology that ensures a permanent fix while remaining cost-effective.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) primer lays down a comprehensive set of guidelines to follow before and during a flood. These guidelines can be accessed here.
While it may be upsetting to experience a successive torrent of natural disasters, there is hope. The government response has always been swift and decisive. With the rapid advancement in technology development, it has become easier to predict and prevent such calamities.
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