It is great to see that the Brisbane River Strategic Floodplain Management Plan has been released. This is a high level document which will guide future local floodplain management plans but it provides catchment wide consistency which is necessary in floodplain planning. Amongst its recommendations are structural flood mitigation works and resilient building design guidance.
Another article this month highlights research into the complex interaction of these two measures with insurance premiums and insurance affordability. On the one hand, it suggests that the provision of large scale flood mitigation works can make flood insurance more affordable to those living on the floodplain but at the same time it suggests that premium discounts can be offered to incentivise owners into making individual properties more flood resilient.
Of course human response to flooding is even more complex than that. We know that the construction of flood mitigation works can encourage complacency with many believing that flooding has been eliminated rather than mitigated. If this is the case, then it is quite likely that some will choose not to take out insurance to cover the residual financial risk which the structural works don’t deal with.
Another interesting aspect of human response to flooding is how we respond to flood warnings. Last month we reported on a role-playing game that helped people improve decision making in response to meteorological forecasts and warnings. This month we report on another role-playing game but this time it is for those who have to issue the warnings and throws in parameters such as trust and popularity to simulate the complex inputs that go into deciding when and how to issue warnings.
For many around the world, however, insurance and role-playing games are luxuries that are not even contemplated in lives that are often lived as day to day survival. A flood makes that survival even more precarious in the absence of adequate warning, flood mitigation or recovery assistance. This month we report on several devastating floods around the world in places where people can ill afford the loss of shelter, crops and sanitation. It is therefore encouraging to read how satellite data is being used to more precisely locate at-risk populations so that mitigation and relief efforts can be more targeted to get the best outcomes out of limited resources in these countries.
Molino Stewart has recently been assisting the Vietnamese Disaster Management Agency with such a project. We have mapped vulnerability and risk to a number of natural hazards, including flooding, in a selection of locations and then trained local personnel on how to replicate the work across the country for all hazards. Dr Filippo Dall’Osso from Molino Stewart will be presenting a poster on this at the upcoming FMA conference where I look forward to catching up with many of you.