Related - Floodplain Manager December 2019 - January 2020

Monsoon Rains Drench Queensland, Causing Widespread Floods

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) issued several flood warnings for north east of Queensland in late January as monsoonal rains ended months of dry conditions across the state.

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A stationary monsoonal low close to the Gulf of Carpentaria drove humid air towards Queensland bringing with it heavy rains and severe thunderstorms. More than 100 mm of rain fell on Townsville and Gregory Downs, with Rita Island receiving 529 mm in just 24 hours. Major flood warnings were issued for the Flinders River with moderate warnings issued for the Norman, Paroo, Thomson, Barcoo rivers, and Cooper Creek. Several schools were closed on 28 January as the BoM warned of the potential of life-threatening flash flooding in the Lower Burdekin region (Read here).

Climate Change Driving Increased Coastal Flood Risk in Melbourne

The Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI) map shows that Melbourne inner suburbs have the greatest increase in risk of coastal inundation events in 2100.

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ecent ice melts in Greenland and the Antarctic have fueled speculation that sea levels could rise higher and faster than initially expected. Predictions for 2100 under a changed climate indicate that flood frequency will increase such that 1% AEP floods may become 10% AEP floods. According to XDI mapping the Melbourne suburbs located on the foreshore including Docklands, Port Melbourne, Albert Park and Footscray are likely to experience increased coastal flood risk as sea levels are predicted to rise by as much as two metres (Read here).

Northern Australia Insurance Report Calls for More Collaboration for Better Flood Defences

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  (ACCC) inquiry into the supply of residential building, contents and strata insurance in northern Australia has released its second interim report which calls for a better dialogue between insurers and the Government.

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On 25 May 2017, the then treasurer Scott Morrison directed the ACCC to hold an inquiry the purpose of which was to gather information to assist governments and industry stakeholders in addressing concerns about insurance affordability and availability and to promote better informed and more competitive insurance markets in northern Australia. The inquiry is based on surveys and community forums of consumers located within case study postcodes located in Qld, NT, and northern WA. Eight insurance providers for northern Australia are also included in the analysis to gain insight into decisions on pricing models, the impacts of consumer behaviour on premium pricing, and contractual agreements between insurers and reinsurers.

The ACCC has released two interim reports detailing the findings of the inquiry with a third set to be released on 30 November 2020. The first report released 18 December 2018 made 15 recommendations to improve the northern Australian insurance market. The overarching finding of the report was that premiums in northern Australia had increased by approximately 130% between 2008 and 2018, compared to 50% in the rest of the country. In part, higher premiums were put down to more extreme weather (such as Cyclone Yasi (FM February, 2011) experienced in northern Australia, with insurers not actively pursuing a market in high risk areas and using increased premiums as a deterrent. The introduction of flood cover, which insurers often make compulsory, has also seen premiums rise for consumers in high risk areas. Furthermore, the inquiry found premium discounts were offered to policy holders in high flood risk areas provided they undertook mitigation initiatives at a household level. However, this was found to be counterbalanced by high upfront costs and uncertainty about longevity of premium reduction as base premiums continue to increase. At a community level, the report recommended that the insurance industry should work with governments to identify specific public mitigation works (e.g. flood levees) that could be undertaken and insurers should provide estimates of the premium reductions they anticipate should the works take place.

The second interim report was released on 20 December 2019 and, upon request of the treasurer, included a detailed case study of the Townsville area in the wake of the 2019 floods (FM Jan/Feb 2019). The trends identified in the first report continue into the second with non-insurance rate rising to 20% across northern Australia due to unaffordable premiums associated with high cyclone and flood risk areas. For example, in Port Hedland, WA, the average home and contents premium was $5,256, almost four times more expensive than the average of $1,400 for the rest of the country. The report found that in areas of higher insurance premiums customers opted to reduce level of coverage to lower costs. This was shown in the Townsville case study which found that 6% of small businesses removed flood cover from their policy to reduce premium costs. At the time of survey, a third of residents surveyed from Townsville and the surrounding areas reported loss or damage due to floods. The report found that there was a lack of transparency between the level of flood cover included in policies and the necessity of its inclusion based on location. For example, 65% of residents who experience loss or damage during the floods stated that they had flood cover whilst 25% did not and 9% were unsure. Furthermore, of the residents without flood cover, 55% stated that they believed that they were not in a flood zone, whilst 5% stated that it was too expensive.

The final report of the inquiry will further examine how insurers take building specifications into account when setting premiums, and how insurance considerations could be factored into land use planning processes (Read here, here).

Queensland Flood Victims set for Lengthy Wait for Class Action Payout

Payouts to the victims of the 2011 floods who won the class action in the NSW Supreme Court against the Queensland State Government and dam operators Seqwater and Sunwater (FM November, 2019), may be held up for years.

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The court ruled in favour of the negligence claim by thousands of property owners, finding the dam operators failed to follow their own manual thus exacerbating flooding across south east Qld. Since the landmark decision, both Seqwater and Sunwater have advised that they would lodge “notice of intention to appeal” which will come into play at the next court hearing on 21 February 2020, and will likely further extend the wait time for the flood victims who have already endured almost a decade’s wait. The insurance bill is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with thousands of individual claimants to be assessed taking into account funding and grants already received, and the extent of damage. The Insurance Council of Australia estimated that 38,460 individual claims amounting to $1.5 billion were lodged with insurers as a result of the flooding. As a result, it is possible that insurance companies will also make their own case against the State Government, Seqwater and Sunwater to compensate losses. Therefore, it is unlikely that victims will receive payout in the near future as the case draws on (Read here and here).

Three Year Old Girl Trapped by Pilbara Flood Water Kept Safe by Unlikely Hero

A missing three-year-old girl was found safe and well with her dog after they wandered away from their home on a 368,000 hectare pastoral property in WA that was inundated with rain from ex-Tropical Cyclone Blake.

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The family of the girl raised the alarm to emergency services concerned that she had been washed away in rising creek water as there was only 600 metres of clear land within their property. Following a 24 hour search effort the girl was located by helicopter approximately 3.5 km south of her property. Rescuers were surprised to see that the girl was kept company by her 10 month old Jack Russell – Wolfy, who has since been nominated for the RSPCA WA Animal Bravery Award for his loyalty and heroism (Read here and here).

Effective Policy Solutions to Reduce Local Flood Risk

The Pew Charitable Trusts examined policies across 13 states or cities in the USA that have fostered effective flood mitigation activities to understand how to improve other locations across the country.

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The policies were found to fall into three categories:using existing funds for mitigation by redirection of revenue and spending, creating revenue sources for mitigation, and establishing smarter regulations to reduce flood risk. For example, the village of South Holland, Illinois offers rebates using existing funds to help residents afford mitigation projects at a property level such as installing drain tile systems to redirect flood water. Meanwhile, Iowa State has created revenue via its flood mitigation fund to cover the costs of flood mitigation measures at a community level. Additionally, Norfolk, Virginia has updated its city zoning ordinance to account for sea level rise and regulating development to avoid building in high risk areas. Overall, the lessons learned from the sample states and cities is that reducing flood risk can be better achieved by investing in smart planning regulations, using cost-sharing finance options for flood defences, utilising nature-based solutions such as allowing floodplains to be rehabilitated into wetlands, reiterate the benefits of flood resilience to stakeholders, and review policy following floods (Read more here).

Level Rise: Drawing the Line on Flood Defence Spending

Estimated costs of flood mitigation measures in response to sea level rise in the Florida Keys, USA has raised questions about when retreat should be preferred over adaptation.

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Results recently released by the county’s sustainability director have calculated the cost of increasing the heights of 480 km of road in response to sea level rise. It was estimated to cost $37 million to raise a 5 km section of road by 40 cm in order to protect it from the height of sea level rise predicted by 2025. The road in question leads to Sugarloaf Key, which has approximately 24 houses in total, thus the infrastructure upgrade is largely seen to be an unnecessary expense and futile endeavour. Although residents have expressed outrage at the calculations and state the legal requirement of local governments to maintain public infrastructure, officials retain the right to decide whether or not to upgrade or enhance that infrastructure. Where the cost of upgrading flood defences outweighs the benefits, it may be preferential to retreat via voluntary buyouts (Read more here ).

Land Acquisition Cheaper Than Flood Recovery

A paper published in the Journal of Nature Sustainability has found that 270,000 km2 of US floodplain land could be acquired to mitigate future costs associated with flood damages.

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A team from the Nature Conservancy and the University of Bristol have analysed floodplain maps in areas with high flood risk and where population growth is expected, and compared the cost of preservation to future flood-damages. The study found that in areas of high predicted growth and flood risk such as St. Louis County and central Minnesota around the Mississippi headwaters, for every dollar spent in preserving floodplains, an estimated five dollars could be saved in future flood damages. Investing in undeveloped floodplains presents additional benefits for habitat, wildlife, water quality and recreation, further strengthening the economic rationale for floodplain conservation (Read more here and here).

Atmospheric Rivers Cause up to 99% of Western US Flood Damages

A study published in the Journal of Science Advances has found that most of flood-related damages in the USA’s Western States in the past 40 years have been as a result of Atmospheric Rivers.

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Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and U.S Army Corps of Engineers found that long narrow corridors of water vapour in the atmosphere known as Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) pose a $1.5 billion-a-year flood risk to USA Western states. The study analysed data for the past 40 years and created a scale from one to five for the intensity and impacts of ARs. The researchers found that $34 billion worth of damage had been caused by 10 ARs during the study period and they were responsible for 99% of flood damage in Oregon and northern California. The study paves the way for improved prediction of ARs that could guide management of dams and reservoirs and give emergency officials additional time to prepare for floods (Read more here) .

Flood Detection Using Social Media

A paper published in the Journal of Scientific Data has generated a new database for detecting and monitoring floods in real-time on a global scale using Twitter.

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Presently, early warning systems for floods rely on gauges, radar data, models and informal local sources. However, many flood events remain unreported and the average time-lapse between the start of a flood and a flood detected by response organisations can be large. Researchers at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Amsterdam have developed an algorithm designed to specifically filter, monitor and geo-locate floods based in real-time based on Twitter data. To develop the algorithm the researchers analysed 88 million tweets, relating to 10,000 floods, across 176 countries worldwide. By filtering common issues such as varying translations for the word “flood”, the ability to accurately geo-locate a tweet, and the same names for multiple locations, researchers found that 90% of events were correctly detected in Tweets when compared to the NatCatSERVICE disaster database. The algorithm is currently used to analyse an average of 75,000 flood Tweets daily to create a real-time world map which is continually updated and can be utilised to improve flood awareness and direct timelier flood responses (Read more here ).

Greenland's Ice Retreat Means More Flooding Globally

Collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) has combined data from 26 satellites and found that 3.8 trillion tonnes of the Greenland Ice Sheet has melted between 1992 and 2018.

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The study found that if current rates of ice retreat continue, then global sea levels could rise as much as 130 mm by 2100. The study predicted that for every centimetre rise in global sea level, an additional 6 million people are exposed to global flooding. The implications of Greenland’s ice melt could see more frequent flooding from storm surges and high tides as well as the exacerbation of extreme weather events such as hurricanes (Read more here).

US Army Corps Found Liable for Houston Floods

The US Army Corps of Engineers has been found liable for the damages resulting from floods upstream of the Barker and Addicks Dams during the Hurricane Harvey storm in 2017.

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Hurricane Harvey was the largest recorded storm to hit the USA and dumped an estimated 85 cm of rain in Houston, Texas over four days. In response to similar extreme rainfall events in the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built two dams in the 1940s to hold excess heavy rainwater. The land upstream of the dam was since sub-divided and developed to accommodate Houston’s growing population. However, following the deluge associated with Hurricane Harvey, water pooled behind the dams and flooded past the extent of government-owned land and into neighbouring homes and businesses. The federal judge ruled in favour of the flood victims citing that obscuring of flood risks denoted on sub-division plans, and lack of publicity for community information events showed a lack of transparency and responsibility by the Corps which led to flood damages and public endangerment (Read more here ).

USA Learning from Dutch About Flood Resilience

The Dutch Dialogues is a series of workshops delivered to coastal cities worldwide designed to help implement the innovative water infrastructure approaches as used in the Netherlands.

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Partnering cities engaged in the workshops to date include New Orleans and Norfolk, Virginia, USA. The Dutch Dialogues attempt to develop tailored flood resilient approaches to flooding rather than relying solely on large and costly flood defence structures such as dams and levees. The workshops seek to create infrastructure that supports water retention by making use of existing structures, like dry canals, and implementing new urban design strategies that will store floodwaters and reintroduce excess water into the soil for greater ecological health (Read more here ).

Innovation to Improve Flash Flood Warnings

Thunderstorm models and ensemble forecasting have been proposed as solutions in predicting the location, timing and impact of flash flooding which is often difficult due to their nature as localised events.

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As rapid urban development increases so too does the risk of flash flooding, particularly in places like Scotland where 100,000 properties are thought to be at risk. Using Scotland as a case study, researchers form the Universities of Strathclyde and Reading, UK reviewed the efficacy of hydrological and prediction models used with respect to flash flooding. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of published flash flooding prediction solutions such as thunderstorm numerical weather prediction computer models, and advances in a forecasting system which gave an indication of the range of possible weather ahead known as ensemble forecasting. They found that combining the two methods and including crowdsourced data was the most robust way of predicting extreme rainfall that causes flash flooding. The applications of such research could enhance existing prediction methods and thereby improve the capacity to prepare, respond and recover from flash flood(Read more here ).

Three-quarters of Drivers Would Risk Entering Flood Waters

A survey by the Environment Agency and the AA in the UK found that only 24% of those surveyed would find another route to avoid driving through flood water, despite the risk to life.

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uring recent flooding in the UK in November 2019, several people had to be rescued after driving through flood waters. The survey found that nearly a quarter of drivers said they are most likely to gauge whether they can drive through flood water based on the visibility of the kerbs, whilst 12% would wait and see if someone enters the flood water first before following them. The findings also showed that men were more likely to drive through water than women, and that drivers aged 18-25 were less likely to drive through waters that drivers in the 45+ age bracket (Read more here ).

GIS-based Multi Criteria Analysis Identify Flood Prone Areas

An article published in the Journal of Flood Risk Management proposes a framework based on multi-criteria analysis in GIS to provide integrated flood risk assessment and management..

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The study used the Attica region in Greece, which experiences occasional flooding due to heavy rainfall as a case study. The researchers compared different scenarios regarding methods for the criteria standardisation, criteria hierarchy and factors weighting estimation to create a framework to identify flood-prone areas which can be replicated and used even in un-gauged catchments. Each scenario was evaluated using a dataset of static point features such as aspect and slope that correspond to the position of flood affected properties recorded within the period 2005–2016. It was found that using classification methods directly to the criteria instead of the standardisation approach was preferred as it required less memory to display, less complex calculations, and less processing time (Read more here ).

Factoring in Ground Subsidence with Sea Level Rise

Researchers studying gauge records in the Ganges delta, Bangladesh, have found that water-level rise could reach 85 to 140 cm by 2100 when factoring in ground subsidence.

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Analysis of monthly readings from 101 gauges measuring water and sea levels across the delta found that between 1968 and 2012, water level increased by 3 mm per year on average. The area, which covers two thirds of Bangladesh and part of eastern India, is prone to flooding due to intense monsoon rainfall, rising sea levels, river flows and land subsidence. The latter however has not been accurately evaluated. Researchers who sought to quantify the effects of land subsidence on water-level rise found that subsidence between 1993 and 2012 was between 1 and 7 mm per year. At that rate water level rise in the delta is predicted to be twice as high as the projections provided in the latest IPCC report which did not incorporate subsidence into its estimations (Read more here ).

Class Action Against Jakarta’s Flood Management

The Jakarta Flood Victims Advocacy Team plans to file a class action lawsuit against Jakarta's provincial government in the wake of the New Years’ Day floods which killed 67 people.

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The claimants intend to bring the government to court for “negligence and inability to prevent and overcome floods.” The victims felt that flood preparedness and management was severely lacking in the city which was experiencing its worst flood in five years. This class action will be the second filed against Jakarta’s provincial government. The first occurred in the wake of the 2007 floods and was ruled in favour of the government (Read more here ).

Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Flood Displacement Risk

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and industry leading experts have used the extent of future flooding to examine the risk of displacement worldwide.

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Natural hazards displaced 17.2 million people in 2018, and seven million in the first half of 2019, with Cyclone Fani displacing as many as 3.4 million people in India and Bangladesh alone (FM May, 2019). The extent of future flooding globally was estimated by transforming future precipitation from global climate models into estimated flood depth using hydrological models. It was found that an increase in severity and frequency of flooding, rapid urban expansion, and the effects of being a low income or developing country would amplify the risk of displacement as a result of flooding as much as five-fold. The future flood extents under a warmer climate could increase the risk of displacement associated with to around 20 million people by 2099 (Read more here ).

The End of Consecutive Disaster Ignorance

An article published in Earths Future provides a framework to adequately assess the risk of consecutive disasters and their impacts.

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Consecutive disasters are events with impacts that overlap both spatially and temporally, while recovery is still under way. An example of these phenomena was during March and April of 2019 when Mozambique was hit by two cyclones within weeks of each other (FM March and April 2019). The researchers used existing empirical disaster databases to show the global probabilistic occurrence for selected hazard types to demonstrate that modelling hazards of different nature, and accounting for their interactions and dynamics leaves a gap in disaster risk management response. As such, the article proposes a Disaster Risk Management cycle tailored for consecutive disasters which considers not only one prevailing risk but also the risk of consecutive disasters. The cycle provides recommendations to improve disaster risk management with respect to consecutive disaster such as improving data quality and availability, understanding the potential detriments of a universal approach to handling all disaster types, and tools to manage disasters both in the long and the short term (Read more here).

Floods: Costliest Disaster of 2019

The annual Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight report for 2019 estimated that direct economic losses and damage from natural disasters amounted to $346 billion, with flooding being the highest contributor to the figure at $122 billion.

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Furthermore, five of the top 10 costliest disasters were flood-related including flooding in the mid-west United States, separate seasonal monsoon floods in China and India, and a major flood event in Iran. The report also explains that cascading impacts within a single event such as flooding after a cyclone, and the compounding effects of population growth and socio-economic vulnerability are likely to exacerbate the effects of flooding under a changed climate (Read more here).

Flooding Increases Chance of Depression by 50%

Research by UK’s Environment Agency has found that experiencing damage caused by extreme weather, such as storms or flooding can increase the chance of facing depression by 50%.

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The research also showed that low-income households are eight times more likely to live in floodplains, and 61% of low-income renters do not have home contents insurance thus increasing their vulnerability to mental health implications. Caroline Douglass, director of incident management and resilience at the Environment Agency said that the mental health impacts of flooding are “not just the financial stress, it’s the loss of irreplaceable sentimental belongings and the strain it can have on those affected”. The researchers emphasise the need to prepare both physically and mentally which can help to reduce the emotional damages associated with flooding by up to 40% (Read more here).

Nationwide Characterisation of Flood Hazards Across China

A paper published in the Journal of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences has presented a nationwide characterisation of flood hazards across China from both statistical and physical perspective, based on flood peak distribution.

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he researchers used data from 1,120 stream gauging stations with continuous records of annual maximum instantaneous discharge for the past 50 years. The analysis investigated the influence of temporal distribution, statistical distribution, and critical factors such as physiography and climate to determine flood peaks. The results show that the dominance of decreasing annual flood peak magnitudes shows a weakening tendency of flood hazards over China in recent decades. Furthermore, the upper tails of flood peak distributions were also found to be dependent on tropical cyclones in northern China and the south eastern coast, whereas in the south it was dependent on extreme monsoon rainfall (Read more here).

Levee Damage: Cumulative and Cryptic

A paper published in the Journal of Engineering Geology has found that repeated flooding events have a cumulative effect on the structural integrity of earthen levees, however the signs of damage aren’t always obvious.

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There are 45,703 levee structures in the USA with an average age of 56 years old. The researchers used the Princeville levee in North Carolina and floods associated with hurricanes Floyd and Matthew as a case study for the research. Traditionally, levee inspections are based on visible signs of distress on the surface which are easily overlooked or can indicate that the structure is beyond repair. The paper found that the effects of repeated rise and fall of water level caused seepage-induced deformation and related stability issues at the Princeville levee. The findings could be used to prioritise the rehabilitation of levees to those exposed to frequent floods in order to reduce the risk of failure (Read more here).

Economy-Wide Effects of Coastal Flooding Due to Sea Level Rise

An article published in Environmental Research Communications has used a multi-model assessment to determine the macroeconomic impacts of coastal flooding due to sea level rise under different climate scenarios.

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he researchers combined two different types of models; the first was an inter-temporal optimal economic growth model to evaluate the consequences of climate-related impacts and the effects of climate change adaptation in the medium-to-long term. This was combined with the second model which provides estimates of the direct impacts of coastal sea level rise in terms of expected annual damages by sea floods, and costs associated with maintaining flood defence structures such as dikes. The models were tested against the respective macroeconomic implications of adaptation measures for a RCP2.6 (equivalent to a ‘well below 2 °C’) world compared to a RCP4.5 (or ‘current policies’) scenario. The results show that there is little difference between the scenarios for the first half of the century, however towards the end the difference between macroeconomic impacts increases. It was found under the RCP4.5 scenario that the countries most likely to experience the highest level of GDP loss as a result of coastal flooding are China, India, Canada and Indonesia. This may be as a result of costs associated with mitigation measures, and the gross losses experienced in sectors such as construction, agriculture and energy intensive industries particularly in the short term (Read more here).

Flood Response Time Considering Socio-economic Variables

Researchers from the Universidad de la Frontera, Chile have developed a Response Time by Social Vulnerability Index (ReTSVI) to determine the effects of socioeconomic characteristics on flood evacuation response time.

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The study, which was published in Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Science, uses a simulated severe flood scenario in Huaraz, Peru to model the application of the ReTSVI. The ReTSVI combines a series of interacting features of an evacuation such as evacuation rate curves, mobilisation, inundation models, and social vulnerability indexes, to create an integrated map of the evacuation rate in a given location. The results showed that within the first five minutes of the flood evacuation response, the population of higher social vulnerability evacuated between 15 and 22% less people than their less socially vulnerable counterparts. The researchers also found that a delay in raising the alarm to trigger evacuation had a substantially more detrimental effect on the more socially vulnerable population (Read more here).

Impact‐Based Flood Warnings Improve Decision-making

A Journal of Flood Risk Management paper has tested the use impact‐based warnings (IBWs) in terms of improving proactive and protective decision making in the general public.

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In this study all warnings that contain information about potential impacts on a specific sector due to floods are considered IBWs. The researchers exposed 338 participants to either IBWs or Hazard Flood Warnings (HWs) under nine hypothetical flood situations whereby they must select their likely decision based on the situation, their role, the flood impact level and probability of precipitation. The results were also analysed with respect to whether the participant had previous flood experience and their gender. Overall, the participants presented with IBWs had a higher likelihood of making a protective decision than those exposed to HWs. The findings showed no significant difference for the effects of gender or previous flood knowledge (Read more here).

International Floods

There were 47 international floods reported across 44 countries throughout December 2019 and January 2020. At least 304 people died and over 300,000 were displaced.

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Internationally significant floods included:

Brazil

At least 30 people have been killed and more than 2,500 people have been evacuated from their homes following widespread floods and landslides in Brazil’s southeast. Belo Horizonte, the regional capital, received 171.8 mm in 24 hours; the damage to infrastructure, housing, and crops is yet to be quantified as many roads are cut by floodwaters. (Read more here ).

Madagascar

The government of Madagascar declared a national emergency on 27 January as tropical cyclones caused intense rainfall and widespread flooding across the country killing 31 people and displacing more than 16,000. Floodwaters have destroyed roads, bridges, agricultural areas and inundated more than 10,000 homes. (Read more here).

Malaysia

At least two people have died and over 15,000 people were displaced after flooding worsened in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu in Malaysia. In Kelantan, 11,278 people were displaced in the districts of Kota Bharu, Pasir Mas, Tumpat, Tanah Merah and Pasir Puteh, while in Terengganu the number of displaced was almost 6,000 in the districts of Besut (1,927), Hulu Terengganu (1,751), Setiu (1,795) and Dungun (around 400). Over 120 relief centres were set up to house those displaced. (Read more here).

Indonesia

Between 1 and 4 January a total of 53 people died and 173,000 people were displaced in flooding and landslides in Greater Jakarta. Elsewhere in the country, heavy rain caused deadly flash flooding and landslides in Sangihe Islands Regency, North Sulawesi Province. Nine people died after a bridge collapsed in Kaur Regency in the western Bengkulu Province on the 19 January. On 21 January, heavy rain continued to cause problems in Central Java and West Sumatra provinces, damaging homes, businesses and schools. (Read more here, here, and here).

India
Flooding in parts of South India has claimed the lives of at least 27 people. In Tamil Nadu, 17 people died after a wall collapsed on a row of houses in Mettupalayam in Coimbatore district late on 1 December, 2019. Local media reports claim that 10 others have died in rain related incidents since 29 November. Around 5,000 houses were flooded, displacing around 500 people. (Read more here).

Phillipines
Typhoon Kammuri made landfall several times in the Philippines between 2 and 3 December. Pre-emptive evacuations displaced almost half a million people, and at least 17 people died. Heavy rain in the wake of Typhoon Kammuri caused flooding in the northern parts of Luzon Island, displacing around 75,000 people, destroying 18 homes and damaging 70 schools and causing four fatalities. The Cagayan River at Buntun, Cagayan Province reached 12.09 metres on 5 December.(Read more here and here).

Burundi
At least 26 people have died and more are missing after heavy rain triggered landslides Cibitoke province, northwestern Burundi on 5 December. On 21 December at least 14 people died and 50 houses were destroyed after torrential rain caused flash flooding in the city of Bujumbura. The rain caused the Cari River to break its banks in the Winterekwa and Nyabagere districts in northern Bujumbura.(Read more here and here).

Sri Lanka
Flooding in Sri Lanka between 18 and 23 December has displaced around 15,000 people and killed at least one. Over 60 houses were destroyed and almost 1,500 damaged. The worst affected districts were Badulla (1,308 displaced), Puttalam (1,674), Kurunegala (1,165), Hambantota (1,911) and Polonnaruwa.(Read more here ).

Mozambique
At least 28 people have died and more than 58,800 affected by heavy rains and flooding in Mozambique. Over 10,200 houses were damaged or destroyed and at least 47 schools affected. Thousands of hectares of crops were damaged or destroyed ahead of harvests in March.(Read more here ).

Rwanda
Torrential rain on 25 December destroyed 113 houses, wide areas of crops, and lead to the death of 12 people. It was reported that 140 mm of rain fell in four to five hours in Kigali.(Read more here).

Uganda
At least 16 people have died after flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas of Bundibugyo district, Western Uganda on 7 December. Further heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides in in Central and Eastern Regions later in the month. At least seven people have died and hundreds were left homeless. Around 500 families have been displaced, and the Red Cross has reported there is a fear of disease outbreaks such as cholera and malaria in flood-hit areas.(Read more here and here).

Diary

FMA Queensland Chapter Meeting
Where: Brisbane, QLD
When: 12 February 2020
For more information visit here

FMA NSW/ACT Chapter Meeting
Where: Sydney, NSW
When: 20 February 2020
For more information visit here

Monte Carlo Design Flood Estimation Using RORB Workshop Event
Where: Perth, Western Australia
When: 24 March, 2020
For more information visit here

FRIAR 2020 International Conference on Flood and Urban Water Management
Where: Valencia, Spain
When: 11-13 May 2020
For more information visit here

2020 Floodplain Management Australia Conference
Where: Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD
When: 19-22 May, 2020
For more information visit here

2020 Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Annual National Conference
Where: Fort Worth, Texas, USA
When: 7-12 June 2020
For more information visit here

2020 International Conference on Flood Management
Where: The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
When: 17-19 August, 2020
For more information visit here

FLOODrisk 2020 European Conference on Flood Risk Management
Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: 31 August – 4 September 2020
For more information visit here

Resources

Australia Annual Climate Statement 2019

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has released its annual climate statement for 2019. Of note, annual rainfall in 2019 was below average over much of Australia, although parts of Queensland's northwest and northern tropics were wetter than average. The national total rainfall for 2019 was 40% below the 1961–1990 average at 277.6 mm (the 1961–1990 average is 465.2 mm). (Click here).

Flood Viewer

Flood Modeller is a free tool which allows integrated modelling of rivers, floodplains and urban drainage systems. Version 4.6 of Flood Modeller has introduced a new way to share flood extent and modelling data with clients or colleagues using the integrated Flood Viewer feature. The setup tool in Flood Modeller uploads model outputs to the Flood Viewer server and provides a unique shareable link. (Click here).

University Theatre Project Enables People to Engage with Flood Scenarios in a Visceral Way

A theatre project run at Virginia Tech University as part of the ‘Science Collaboration’ series aims at conveying flood scenarios in a more relatable and visceral way. Audience members were asked to imagine the sensation and visuals of being in waist deep water at iconic locations around the university campus as would be the case in a 1% AEP flood. The interactive art form is hoped to engage people in a way that goes beyond bare facts and data. (Click here).

Water Anomalies Watch List

IScience has produced a map using three months of observed data on temperature and precipitation and nine months of projected data which provides a set of regions expected to experience significant water fluctuations over a one-year cycle starting in October 2019 and continuing through September 2020. According to the map water deficits will shrink and downgrade considerably in Australia through March 2020 with surpluses forecast in northwestern Western Australia.(Click here).

Drones for Disaster Relief

The fire department for Auburn in Maine, USA has delivered much needed life jackets to two men stranded on a rock in a raging river using a drone.(Click here)

Global Index Reveals Who Suffers Most from Flooding

The Germanwatch Climate Risk Index report analyses the effects of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.) on countries using data from 1997-2019. The report identified that Haiti, Zimbabwe and Fiji rated the highest with respect to the Climate Risk Index (CRI). (Click here).

Release of the 2019 UK Flood Map Update

JPAriskmanagement has announced an update to its UK flood map which covers river (fluvial), surface water (pluvial) and coastal flood across Great Britain and Northern Ireland at 5m resolution. The updated mapping is accompanied by a range of associated data, including simple flood risk scores, flood cost ratings at a property level, and potential changes in flood risk with respect to climate change. (Click here).