This Week in Disaster Resilience 5th March 2021

Dear colleague,

Please find links below to some aspects of disaster resilience that were in the news this week…

Recent emergencies/disasters

Australia – Train Derailed by Floods in New South Wales

Tropical cyclone developing near the coast of Queensland, Australia

USA – High Water Rescues After Flash Floods in Kentucky

Burundi and Tanzania – Floods Leave Homes Destroyed, Hundreds Displaced

Mount Sinabung: Time-lapse shows Indonesia volcano's 5km-high ash cloud

Severe flooding damages roads, hundreds of houses in northern Morocco

Argentina – Damaging Flash Floods in Catamarca

Colombia – Deadly Floods and Landslides in Huila and Antioquia

Brazil – Floods in Grande Do Sul After a Month’s Worth of Rain in 2 Hours

Powerful earthquake hits off north-east coast of New Zealand

Pinatubo volcano Alert Level raised after 1 722 earthquakes since January 20, Philippines

Volcanic activity worldwide 3 Mar 2021: Etna volcano, Pacaya, Fuego, Klyuchevskoy, Popocatépetl

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Climate campaign teens prepare for court battle with minister over coal expansion

Latest climate pledges are 'very far' from Paris goals needed to avert catastrophic global warming, UN warns

Michael Mann: the author and eminent climate scientist on the deniers’ new tactics and why positive change feels closer than it has done in 20 years

Strong climate targets make strong friendships, Fiji tells Australia

Australia pumped out an extra six months' worth of emissions than previously recorded

The Climate Connections of a Record Fire Year in the U.S. West

Denmark’s climate policies 'insufficient' to meet 2030 emissions target

To stop climate disaster, make ecocide an international crime

Climate Change is Weakening the Ocean Currents That Shape Weather on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Climate change made the Uttarakhand flash flood possible, and poor development policies made it disastrous

What motivates natural resource policymakers in Africa to take action on climate change?

“Not even close:” UN slams Australia and other rich countries for weak climate efforts

Fossil fuel cars make 'hundreds of times' more waste than electric cars

Climate Change is Leading to Global "Weirding," Not Just Global Warming

What is driving record rooftop solar volumes in Australia?

Improving Access to Paleoclimate Data

Global greenhouse gas emissions on track to fall just 0.5% between 2010 and 2030

World must break its ‘deadly addiction’ to coal, says UN chief

Against the odds, South Australia is a renewable energy powerhouse. How did they do it?

Fossil fuel emissions in danger of surpassing pre-Covid levels

'A duty of care': Australian teenagers take their climate crisis plea to court

Brutal realities of climate change loss and damage come to life in IIED animations

The climate crisis can't be solved by carbon accounting tricks

Coal mines are the engines of climate change. Time to start treating them like it.

Climate change threatens New Guinea’s biocultural heritage

Development and Climate Change Contribute to a Himalayan Tragedy

Councillors issue plea for climate action

At least 1,500 Britons killed by climate change-fuelled heat this century

Humans, not nature, are the cause of changes in Atlantic hurricane cycles, new study finds

4 assumptions about gender that distort how we think about climate change (and 3 ways to do better)

Disaster risk reduction

A Looming Disaster: New Data Reveal Where Flood Damage Is An Existential Threat

Twenty years after 6.8 Nisqually earthquake, are we ready for the Next One?

Team of students from Varanasi develop a unique glacier flood sensor alarm to alert people

Preparing for a 1-in-1,000 year loss: Insurance resilience 10 years after the Christchurch earthquake

Bushfire resilient building guidance for Queensland homes

Indigenous expertise is reducing bushfires in northern Australia. It’s time to consider similar approaches for other disasters

Kitchens on wheels and flagstone lounges: How Brits are preparing for a future with floods

Data Project May Drive Policy for Hyperlocal Flooding in NYC

Scientists begin building highly accurate digital twin of our planet to better prepare for extreme weather events

Glacier burst - a killer disaster; but the solution lies in managing cascading risks

Ambiental flood data now available through WhenFresh API

Latest edition of Hazard News for the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC

Latest edition of Molino Stewart’s Floodplain Manager newsletter

Climate change could put insurance out of reach for many Australians

Extreme rainfall in New Zealand and its association with atmospheric rivers

What has the Covid-19 pandemic taught us about the future of data?

Could a universal coronavirus vaccine future-proof our response?

Impact-based forecasting for the coastal zone: East coast lows

US flood disclosure map

57 per cent of the Earth’s seasonal surface water storage variability occurs in human-managed reservoirs

Call of the rewild: Releasing Britain's rivers to ease flooding

Real-time determination of earthquake focal mechanism via deep learning

East Africa’s rising flood threat

Emergency management

Covid-19: Brazil 'variant of concern' detected in UK

The United States has reached a grim milestone—the moment when half a million Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus

Rating tornado warnings charts a path to improve forecasts

Trend analysis civil protection 2030 - Uncertainties, challenges and opportunities

Japanese experts look to create global standards for disaster preparedness

Disaster education, communications and engagement

The Texas Crisis Shows (Again) There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster

The Dragon, the Knight and the Princess: Folklore in Early Childhood Disaster Education

Children and Young People's Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction: Agency and Resilience's_Participation_in_Disaster_Risk_Reduction_Agency_and_Resilience

Twitter strike system will permanently ban users who repeatedly post COVID-19 misinformation

10 lessons about managing flood risk from source to sea

Landslides Book

Psychology and disasters

‘She’ll be right’: the place of gendered emotions in disasters

Sociology and disasters

Texans with disabilities left vulnerable after deep freeze

Kurigram, Bangladesh: Rural women forging together to deal with multiple crises

Conceptualizing community resilience and the social dimensions of risk to overcome barriers to disaster risk reduction and sustainable development

Breaking point: How the coronavirus pandemic will push fragile states towards catastrophe in 2021

Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view


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If you have any links you wish to share please send them to:

 Neil Dufty

Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd

E-mail: [email protected]

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Find out more about The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) at

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Floodplain Manager February 2021


There were more floods around Australia in the last month and Bureau of Meteorology forecasts we could be in for even more throughout autumn.  A feature of two of the recent floods in Western Australia and New South Wales has been the loss of key transport infrastructure through flood erosion.  I don’t know what the probability of the flooding was in each location nor the particular circumstances of the damage but it highlights the fact that the consequences of flooding on critical infrastructure can be expensive.  It is not only expensive to repair the direct damage but the cost to the economy can be enormous while those repairs are being conducted.

I am surprised how often critical infrastructure (and I don’t if it was the case with these assets) is designed to either pass or be above the 1% AEP flood but no thought is given to the erosion which may accompany that or smaller floods.  Very often no consideration is given to the disruption and economic consequences of larger, rarer floods, yet were a cost benefit analysis undertaken designing for larger floods could be economically justified.  It is still not on the radar of many engineers, planners and economists.  Yet that is what a risk assessment demands – understanding what the consequences are in each flood event and choosing the probability event which will be tolerated or mitigated based on that understanding.

That is why I was somewhat taken aback by the approval conditions imposed on the Parramatta Powerhouse Museum a couple of weeks ago.  I, and others, had pointed out last year that in the design and environmental impact assessment process, no consideration had been given to the impact of flooding on the museum’s unique collections when choosing to build the museum in a location affected by both riverine and overland flooding.  A 1% AEP plus freeboard was selected for the ground floor of the museum and the power supply operating the climate control system to protect the collections from fluctuations in humidity.  The conditions of approval belatedly acknowledge the need for a proper flood risk assessment to be done on the collections.  While that is a step in the right direction, the condition does not have to be complied with until immediately before the building is occupied.  At that point it may be too late or too expensive to mitigate the flood risks to an acceptable level.
We still have a long way to go in taking flood risk into consideration in the design of public infrastructure.

Steven Molino

Articles related to February 2021

Related - Floodplain Manager February 2021

Road Swept Away by Floodwaters North of Carnarvon

Once in a decade flooding on the Gascoyne River results in $8.5 million in road repairs.

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Carnarvon in the northwest of Western Australia has experienced flooding in the days preceding and on 9 February 2021, when up to 200 millimetres of rain fell in and around the town. The Bureau of Meteorology reported that more rain fell in 24 hours than had fallen in all of 2020. The Gascoyne River peaked at 7.1 metres at Nine Mile Bridge on 6 February 2021. The Bureau of Meteorology has said that flooding of this magnitude occurs once every ten years. Ten kilometres of road were swept away, and local residents were evacuated, including those in the Carnarvon Caravan Park at 3:45 AM. State Emergency Services have said that the levees built following the last serious flooding in 2010 helped protect the community. (Read here and here).

Hundreds Evacuated as Northern Territory Floods

The Aboriginal community of Jilkminggan, along the Roper River south of Katherine, was fully evacuated on 26 February as all access roads were cut by water and further inundation expected.

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About 250 people were evacuated via bus and car from the Northern Territory community as heavy rainfall caused the Roper River to break its banks and inundate roads. Residents were evacuated as a precaution as flood waters continued to rapidly rise, and were brought to the nearby Mataranka where they were provided temporary accommodation at the town hall. Access to the area was cut, and members of the public were advised to keep away from the flooded roads. A moderate flood warning was also issued for the Daly River on 25 February 2021. (Read here).

Middle of Night Flooding Leaves Residents Stranded in NSW Mid North Coast

Residents were stranded on the roofs of their homes waiting for assistance as houses were inundated in Corindi, NSW.

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More than 500 millimetres of rain fell on 25 February 2021, causing houses to flood in Corindi and a freight train to derail in nearby Nana Glen. Greenhouses have been destroyed in some parts of this blueberry and raspberry growing region. NSW State Emergency Service conducted about 15 flood rescues from inundated homes, and three rescues from vehicles that had driven through floodwaters. (Read here and here).

Declining La Nina to Still Bring Wet Autumn

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts a wetter-than-average autumn as La Nina maintains a weakening influence over eastern Australia’s weather.

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Above average rainfall is expected in eastern and some northern parts of Australia, along with above average minimum temperatures across the majority of the country. La Nina conditions over the past summer have brought the highest rainfall since the summer of 2016-2017. While dam levels are already high, saturated ground means that high catchment runoff into reservoirs is expected. In Western Australia, La Nina brought a marine heatwave but little rain for the state’s south. (Read more here).

Call for National Policy to Account for Property Climate Risk

Researchers in a recently published paper say that zoning changes must be put into place to prevent development in areas at high risk from hazards such as flooding and bushfires.

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Residences “scattered” along coastlines or into bushland are more vulnerable to climate hazards, require a more energy intensive lifestyle, and can put extra pressure on emergency services during disasters. In a recently published paper, researchers call for land use planning to be reassessed to prevent rebuilding and new building in risky areas, such as many areas affected by the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires. Instead, a transition towards climate-resilient properties and communities is required to prevent recurring disasters. This includes a planned retreat from at-risk areas, incorporating Indigenous knowledge into fire management, and a transition towards more sustainable energy systems. Without these changes, homeowners will have to face increased insurance premiums, or will be unable to obtain any insurance. Climate Risk 2019 found that up to 720,000 Australian properties would be uninsurable by the end of the century. (Read more here).

Determining the Cause of Underinsurance in Australia

A new national study has found that underinsurance is commonly a product of a lack of knowledge of options and a lack of trust in insurers, and more insurance is not necessarily the solution.

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Up to 10% of homeowners do not have home insurance, and about 40% of renters do not have contents insurance. This makes post-disaster recovery much more expensive and difficult. Key causes for this are a lack of clarity on what insurance covers or does not cover, and a lack of trust in insurers based on unfavourable previous experience. Making insurance work better for the public by making it more equitable and accessible is advised as a better solution compared to simply encouraging renters and homeowners to purchase more insurance. Based on an understanding of why people are underinsured or uninsured, this research suggests that governments should not rely on individuals to manage their own risk with insurance, and that the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens with tools that include but also go beyond insurance. (Read more here).

Why Farmers Have Not Taken Up Federal Flood Relief Grants

Following the 2019 north Queensland floods (FM February 2019), less than a quarter of the federal grant money has been accessed by farmers.

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Following the floods, $400,000 grants were offered to graziers and primary producers; however, they needed to match the funding with their own money. Researchers studying the program are not surprised that dollar-for-dollar grants are not popular, as the farmers would usually be required to take out a bank loan to access the funding. While the grants have provided an important role in recovery for some graziers, there are calls for the federal government to reassess their scheme which requires farmers to take on more debt. Local officials say that drought following the flooding is the main reason why farmers did not access the grants, as their cattle stocks were low. (Read more here).

Gwydir Valley Floodplain Harvesting Restrictions

The NSW Government will cut 52 gigalitres from irrigators in the Gwydir Valley from July, when it will issue licenses for floodplain harvesting for the first time.

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A report has shown that the Gwydir Valley, a major cotton producing area, takes 11% more water than is allowed under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Licensing is being enacted to bring floodplain harvesting back down to legal limits and increase delivery into downstream areas such as the Menindee Lakes. However, there is concern over new carryover rules which allow irrigators to store 500% of their allocation in farm dams, as well as unlicensed irrigation infrastructure, particularly in areas of high environmental significance. The NSW Water minister says that the decisions have been made based on data and science, and that there would be a crackdown on any illegal irrigation works. (Read more here).

Targeted Satellite Images to Improve Flood Forecasting

A new Australian study investigates the potential of targeted satellite observation strategies to more accurately forecast flooding after model-data integration.

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Synthetic experiments were conducted based on the 2011 flooding of the Clarence Catchment in northern NSW to simulate multiple different satellite image acquisition possibilities and assess how they impacted flood forecast accuracy. The location and timing of the images were shown to be more important than the revisit interval of image acquisition. This will help determine how best to focus resources for improved forecasting, considering high-resolution satellites can only observe small areas relative to the total area of large river systems during a flood. A more targeted approach will ensure more cost-effective flood monitoring using satellite observations and maximise forecast accuracy. (Read more here).

Partial Settlement for 2011 Brisbane Flood Victims

Victims of the 2011 Brisbane floods have won $440 million in a class action partial settlement from the Queensland government and state-owned SunWater over the operation of the Wivenhoe Dam in north-west Brisbane.

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The settlement covers 50% of the liabilities for the damage suffered by 6,500 residents affected by the flooding and comes over a year after the NSW Supreme Court ruled that negligence by the operators of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams exacerbated the 2011 Brisbane floods. The class action continues to fight against an appeal on behalf of a third party, the Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (Seqwater), which was not a party to this settlement and is liable for the remaining 50% of the damage. (Read more here, here and here).

Reanimating New Zealand’s Rivers for Better Flood Management

Adopting alternative river management techniques besides river confinement may better reduce the impacts of future disasters.

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Constraining a river’s flow concentrates its energy, increases flood magnitude and can accentuate downstream flooding problems. This study suggests that more effective river management involves working with the natural geomorphology of the river system and allowing it to naturally dissipate energy. International research has found that allowing a river space to move and self-adjust is more effective and cheaper in the long-term and aligns with indigenous land use practices. While flood management in New Zealand is currently primarily concerned with protecting as much land as cheaply as possible with engineering works, reanimating rivers should be considered as a more sustainable and equitable river management technique. (Read more here).

Canadian Cities Bolster Flood Preparedness

While most Canadian cities lack proper flood preparation, Edmonton, Regina, and Toronto have effectively boosted flood-readiness according to a new national study.

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On average, Canada’s 16 major cities did not improve their flood preparedness from 2015 to 2020. However, works such as  supplementary pluvial flooding assessments for all electrical substations in Edmonton, drainage system upgrades in Regina, and installation of dual power feeds for critical infrastructure in Toronto have boosted these cities’ scores to B+, the highest in the country. Across the country, the primary vulnerability was consistently high exposure risk of residential properties to flooding. Insurable losses in Canada reached $2.5 billion in 2020, which is set to rise due to climate change, aging infrastructure, and loss of wetlands. (Read more here and here).

Flood Risk Reduction Lacking Despite Willingness to Pay in Southern France

Research shows that in a flood-prone community in the South of France, willingness to pay does not lead to increased implementation of flood reduction measures.

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This study found that implementation of individual adaptation measures was low, and that people were more willing to contribute to collective mitigation measures rather than individual ones. Many study participants who did not implement risk reduction measures perceived their risk to be low, or believed they were not exposed to flood risk. Prior experience of flooding was a major factor in increased preparedness, but investment in measures only remained high for a few years after the event. Overall, it was concluded that there is a low cost-efficiency of individual adaptation measures. Therefore, low-cost adaptation measures should be promoted as the focus of flood risk reduction policies. (Read more here).

Humanitarian Engineering for Better Flood Warning

The development of small, low-cost solar or hydropower units with integrated flood warning systems is being investigated as a tool to both improve energy access and flood preparedness.

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A new field of humanitarian engineering seeks to find engineering solutions for vulnerable populations that can serve to mitigate against disasters such as flooding. In many global communities, a lack of electricity means a lack of an effective early warning system. This makes events such as flash flooding particularly devastating. By implementing small hydropowered units in a river, or solar powered units nearby to a river, electricity can be generated while sensors detect water levels and velocities. This would allow for the system to trigger warnings when critical levels were reached, to be incorporated into flood warning systems. It is important that there is community ownership and leadership over these solutions to ensure they are appropriate and useful. (Read more here).

Does Flood Experience Increase Preparedness?

Both cultural factors and the severity of prior flood experience play a role in determining if flood experience correlates with increased preparedness.

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This study investigated the differences in the relationships between flood experience and preparedness across the regions of England. It was found that there was a lesser increase in preparedness with increasing flood experience in the Midlands, North West and Thames regions, while the South and South West regions had a higher correlation between the two. Additional factors that may influence the relationship include the severity of prior flood experience, and whether English is the first language or not. These findings can be integrated into strategies to increase levels of flood preparedness. (Read more here).

Faster Tsunami Prediction Using AI and Supercomputers

While conventional supercomputer tsunami prediction techniques make rapid prediction difficult to implement, a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) model can make highly accurate predictions within seconds using an ordinary computer.

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The new Japanese AI model harnesses the power of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku, to predict tsunami flooding. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011 highlighted the need for improved disaster mitigation and improved evacuation information. The new model leverages the power of the supercomputer to generate training data for 20,000 scenarios, which have been used to streamline an AI model that can predict flooding based on offshore wave data prior to a tsunami making landfall. The model operates at a high spatial resolution and can be a powerful tool in tsunami disaster mitigation. (Read more here).

How to Boost Innovation in Flood Risk Management

A “Systems of Innovation” approach that analyses the interactions, elements and relationships that can lead to new and useful knowledge has provided insight into factors that promote or inhibit innovation in the multidisciplinary field of flood risk management.

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It has been found that the encouragement of champions of flood risk innovation should be enhanced, and that learning should be facilitated to maximise the understanding and development of innovation. Risk-adverse cultures need to be stymied to allow for progress in this space. More work can be done to integrate innovation facilitation processes into existing systems to make them part of the standard procedure, rather than being left to chance. The study says that flood risk management professionals need to recognise where institutional and organisational roadblocks inhibit innovative progress. (Read more here).

Global Sea-Level Data Confirms Climate Model Predictions

A recently published article shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sea-level predictions are in line with observed sea levels over the period of 2007 to 2018.

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The study found that the trends of sea-level predictions published in both the IPPC Fifth Assessment Report and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate agree well with the observations from satellites and tide gauges over the decade. The findings show that the projections were accurate at the global, regional, and local levels. This analysis indicates that the world is currently tracking between the middle and worst-case greenhouse gas emission scenarios, showing that more needs to be done to reduce global emissions and meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement.  (Read more here).

Improved Methods for Assessing Hydrological Extremes

A new method has been developed that utilises pooled data from a regional group of hydrologically similar catchments, allowing for better characterizations of changes across several individual sites in a region.

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Models of hydrological extremes for individual catchments are often limited by short available records. This inhibits the consistent comparison of trends across different sites. By developing a new pooled slope parameter for catchments that are considered hydrologically similar and by cross-correlating annual maximum events across sites, a clearer assessment of changes across multiple sites is possible. This new approach has been applied to a national dataset in the United Kingdom and has shown that applying the new regional magnification factor could lead to an increase in design flood levels of up to 50% in some parts of the country for the next 50 years.   (Read more here).

Adaptation Chosen Over Climate-Driven Migration

In the Philippines, ties to home communities mean that migration is not considered a primary flood risk mitigation strategy.

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The coastal nation experiences far more floods than any other weather-related disaster, and research suggests that the country will have to cope with five to ten times more people living below the projected high-tide level by the year 2100. However, the study found that people have a strong sense of place and occupational attachment and would rather spend money to adapt their current homes than move elsewhere. However, staying in the same location requires increasingly demanding adaptation measures, such as house elevation, changing livelihoods, and relying on the government and others for aid. Planned climate retreat has not been systematically managed in the country, and those who had moved often had to do so suddenly in response to intolerable climate impacts. Study participants voiced concern over leaving their homes even temporarily during an evacuation, for fear of looting and uncertainty over the benefits of sheltering in a crowded evacuation centre, particularly during the pandemic. (Read more here).

Post-Flood Recovery for People with Disabilities

During Hurricane Harvey, the people of Houston living with disabilities faced disproportionate exposure to flooding, and major hurdles to recovery.

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Over one million people with disabilities in Houston were directly affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused catastrophic flooding across the city. People with disabilities in the US are already more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, and have limited access to healthcare. Neighbourhoods with higher proportions of residents with disabilities, and particularly cognitive disabilities, were more likely to experience hurricane-induced flooding during the storm. Reports following the hurricane found that informal shelters did not provide adequate disability-compliant facilities such as restrooms and showers, and some people in assisted living facilities were abandoned or neglected during the storm. In addition, people with disabilities were inappropriately institutionalised following the disasters due to a lack of accessible housing. This case study highlights the barriers people with disabilities encounter on a larger scale, and the work that needs to be done to provide just and equitable access to resources during post-flood recovery.   (Read more here).

Aging Dams Pose Looming Threat

Following a boom of dam-building in the mid-20th century, a new UN report has found that tens of thousands of large dams across the world are reaching the end of their expected lifespans.

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As the world’s dam infrastructure ages, there are concerns about the threat posed to the hundreds of millions of people living downstream of deteriorating dams worldwide. According to the World Bank, there are already 19,000 dams higher than 15 metres that are more than 50 years old, many of which are undergoing structural decay and might fail under natural hazards such as moderate earthquakes. Dam engineers say that the greatest risks are aging dams in China and India, which have already suffered deadly dam failures in recent decades. With the dam-building boom over and dams now barricading the majority of the world’s rivers, there is a call for more rigorous inspection of existing dams, more investment into dam repair, and the decommission of dams that cease to serve a purpose. (Read more here).

Why are Flood Policies Failing?

Collaboration with stakeholders is essential to help disadvantaged communities that are both more exposed to and more vulnerable to natural hazards.

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This report highlights the need for scientists and policymakers to work together to build solutions by integrating sound science, communications, and social justice to boost the preparedness and resilience of all communities, including the more economically disadvantaged. To enact an equity approach, individual circumstances must be taken into consideration to provide the necessary support for historically disadvantaged communities. Programs that incentivise public outreach and engagement at the community level, along with integration of science, are key to building better flood policies. In addition, understanding local nuances rather than applying a regional one-size-fits-all approach improves the effectiveness of mitigation strategies. (Read more here).


International Floods

There were 31 international floods reported across 23 countries in February 2021. At least 115 people died, 150 are missing and more than 100,000 were displaced.

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Internationally significant floods included:


As of 22 February 2021, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was inundated by up to 2.5 metres of water as heavy rain caused river embankments to break. Flooding has caused at least five deaths and the displacement of 30,000 people, with residents being evacuated to the outskirts of the capital. Earlier in February, four people died and over 60,000 people were displaced when heavy rain caused flooding and landslides on the Indonesian island of Java. (Read more here, here and here)


A Himalayan glacier has broken in Uttarakhand, India on 7 February, sending glacial ice down valley, and triggering a landslide and subsequent flooding. The torrent of water and rock swept through a dam construction site and a hydropower project. At least twenty people have been found dead so far, and another 150 are feared dead. (Read more here, here, here, and here)

South Africa

Heavy rainfall during late January and early February has resulted in flooding that has caused at least 30 fatalities. Ten fatalities were reported on 13 February in Limpopo province due to drowning in flooded rivers. (Read more here)


At least one person has died, and 10,000 people have been displaced after flooding following heavy rainfall in Eastern Visayas in the Philippines from 8 February. On 21 February, more than 18,000 people were additionally pre-emptively evacuated from the south of the country as tropical storm Dujuan brought heavy rains and inundated many villages. (Read more here and here)


Heavy rainfall in Paraguay has resulted in the deaths of ten people in floods and landslides in early February. The Paraguay River Asuncion rose by 1.98 metres within a week, prompting the evacuation of residents living along the river. (Read more here)


Flash flooding in Tangier has killed at least 28 workers in an illegal textile factory, where at least 40 workers were trapped. Local media has speculated that the victims died from electrocution after power cables in the factory were submerged. Ten survivors were rescued.  (Read more here and here)


Ten years post the QLD-Wide Flooding of 2011: Who has done what, and why?
Where: Queensland University of Technology
When: 4 March 2021
For more information visit here

Flood and Coast 2020 Conference and Exhibition
Where: Online and Telford International Centre, UK
When: Multiple online and in person between December 2020 to June 2021
For more information visit here

Call for Papers: Climate Change and Flood Risk Management
Where: Here
When: 20 April 2021

International Conference on Urban Flood Control and River Flood Management
Where: Singapore
When: 03 to 04 May 2021
For more information visit here

Association of State Floodplain Managers 45th Annual National Conference
Where: Raleigh Convention Center, North Carolina
When: 9 to 12 May 2021
For more information visit here

Floodplain Management Australia National Conference 2021
Where: Virtual conference
When: 25 to 28 May 2021
For more information visit here

FLOODrisk 2020 European Conference on Flood Risk Management
Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: 21 to 25 June 2021
For more information visit here

46th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop
Where: Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder
When: 11- 14 July 2021
For more information visit here

Eighth International Conference on Flood Management
Where: The University of Iowa, USA
When: 9 to 11 August 2021
For more information visit here

Australian Disaster Resilience Conference 2021
Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney, NSW
When: 18 to 19 August 2021
For more information visit here

Flood Expo
Where: Birmingham, UK
When: 22 to 23 September 2021
For more information visit here



Total Flood Warning System Review by Neil Dufty

Molino Stewart’s Neil Dufty has published a review of Australian Total Flood Warning Systems (TFWS) in the January 2021 edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management. His review concludes that Australia’s TFWS compares favourably to its international counterparts, particular with its added “Review” component, which is highlighted as critical to the process. Suggestions are given for extensions to the current framework to include components such as emergency management and planning, and proactive community flood education.

Testing Flood Warning Systems Without a Flood

This paper in the January 2021 edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management introduces the agent-based simulation software HEC-LifeSim by testing how it can inform targeted and timely flood warning. It tracks the movement of individuals on the road network, providing useful insight into the mechanisms of evacuation, and can be used to estimate the benefits of improving specific elements of flood warning systems.

Australian Journal of Emergency Management January 2021

The entire January 2021 edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management focused on the topic of warnings is available here.

Natural Flood Management Measures: A Practical Guide for Farmers

This guide produced by the Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership and Catchment Based Approach Partnerships provides clear information pertaining to natural flood management for farmers and landowners in the North West of the United Kingdom.

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience Handbook Updates

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has progressed to the second draft of writing the Disaster Resilience Education for Young People Handbook, by lead writer Neil Dufty of Molino Stewart. Updates and further information about the handbook collection is available here and here.

Social Approaches to Building Flood Resilience

The Risky Cities project is using innovative approaches centred in the arts and humanities to build climate awareness and boost flood resilience through learning and communication.

Status of Disaster Risk Reduction in Australia in 2020

This status report provides a snapshot of disaster risk reduction in Australia under the four priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, highlighting the progress and challenges, and making recommendations to local and national institutions.

Report on Flood Risk Communication in Australia

The final project report on flood risk communication by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre focuses on understanding behaviour in and around floodwater, collating flood risk communications, and co-developing flooding Community Service Announcements for national use. Key aspects involve consultation and collaboration with stakeholders and end-users.

Online Tools for Flood Risk Engagement

“Landscapes to Lifescapes” is an online public exhibition on flood risk that provides ways to engage with different audiences on flood risk awareness created by researchers at Lancaster University, the University of Hull, and the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom.

House of Commons 2019 - 2020 Flooding Report

This inquiry investigated aspects of the Government policy on flood risk management and the response to increasingly frequent severe flood events in the United Kingdom, such as occurred over the autumn and winter of both 2019–20 and 2020–21.

Live Stream Gauge Online Mapping

The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World has introduced a new version of Live Stream Gauges which includes important upgrades and enhancements to the layer that provides access to near real-time stream gauge readings from a variety of agencies and organizations.

Building Flood Resilience in El Salvador

This video showcases the flood risk awareness work and resilience framework Plan International is applying in El Salvador as a part of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance.

The Geneva Association Climate Change Risk Assessment for the Insurance Industry Report

The Geneva Association report by the Task Force on Climate Change Risk provides a decision-making framework for assessing climate risks and scenarios for home and life insurers, considering all physical and transition climate change risks for the sector.


Steven Molino Praised for Valuable Flood Evidence during the Parramatta Powerhouse Museum Parliamentary Inquiry

Earlier this month, Molino Stewart Principal Steven Molino again appeared before the Select Committee on the Government's management of the Powerhouse Museum and other museums and cultural projects in New South Wales to give evidence regarding flood risks. Steven had previously submitted a report summarising the flood risks of the proposed museum site along the Parramatta River, and had been asked to speak on the matter in late 2020. The primary concerns identified were risks to people, risk to neighbouring properties, and risk to the museum collections. This month, he acknowledged that design modifications in response to his evidence had significantly reduced risks to people and further modelling clarified ambiguities about risks to neighbouring properties.  However, Steven reiterated his concern that a quantified flood risk assessment of the museum collections had still not been undertaken and requiring it as a condition just prior to occupation could be too late to implement practical and affordable mitigation measures. The Deputy Chair and other members of the committee stated their gratitude for Steven’s engagement in the process and valuable insight into the grave flood risks.

Recording of the session can be found here and the transcript here.

Steven’s detailed report can be found here.

NSW Parliament - Mngmt of museums and cultural projects in NSW – 29.07.20 – 4.15pm to 4.45pm - YouTube

This Week in Disaster Resilience 26th February 2021

Dear colleague,

Please find links below to some aspects of disaster resilience that were in the news this week…

Recent emergencies/disasters

Floods cripple Indonesia's capital

'Incredibly powerful' paroxysm at Etna, lava fountains exceeding 1 000 m (3 300 feet) in height

Uganda – Rain Triggers Deadly Landslide in Buhweju

Madagascar – Hundreds Affected by Floods and Landslides

Ecuador – Deadly Landslides and Floods in El Oro

Record flooding affects more than 100 000 people in Acre, northwestern Brazil

More than 59 000 people flee as Dujuan brings widespread flooding and disruption to Philippines

Indonesia – Floods Worsen in Greater Jakarta Region, 5 People Reported Dead, Over 30,000 Displaced

State of emergency declared in Madre de Dios as severe flooding leaves 15 000 people affected, Peru

South Africa and Zimbabwe – Flash Floods in Border Towns of Musina and Beitbridge

Italy’s Mount Etna erupts

Indonesia – Heavy Rain Causes Deadly Landslides in Pamekasan Regency, East Java

Australia – Evacuations After Rivers Rise in Northern Territory

Indonesia – 3 Dead, 5 Missing After Landslide at Illegal Mine in Central Sulawesi

Volcanic activity worldwide 25 Feb 2021: Etna volcano, Fuego, Popocatépetl, Semeru, Ibu, Dukono

North coast NSW floods

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Fragile cities are being inundated with people feeling the impacts of climate change. How can they cope?

Scientists are divided over whether climate change is fueling extreme cold events

Governing heatwaves in Europe: comparing health policy and practices to better understand roles, responsibilities and collaboration

Climate Threats Could Mean Big Jumps in Insurance Costs This Year

Beijing records warmest February day since 1951, China

Highlights from "The cost of climate: America’s growing flood risk"

Assessing Shifts in Regional Hydroclimatic Conditions of U.S. River Basins in Response to Climate Change over the 21st Century

Renewable energy could render five of Australia’s remaining coal plants unviable by 2025

Climate change: 5 places where global warming is a security risk

Climate crisis hitting 'worst case scenario', warns Environment Agency head

Inventories of extreme weather events and impacts: Implications for loss and damage from and adaptation to climate extremes

Why the climate crisis is a humanitarian emergency

ESA Glaciers Climate Change Initiative

A Huge Red Flag Just Popped Up in a Little-Studied Region of Antarctica

“We don’t have a credible climate policy:” Sport stars want stronger targets

Submarine Permafrost Has Been Overlooked as a Major Source of Greenhouse Gases, Scientists Warn

Attenborough gives stark warning on climate change to UN

Climate change: West Antarctica's Getz glaciers flowing faster

As Deaths Surge, Scientists Study the Link Between Climate Change and Avalanches

Beyond simplistic metrics: assessing global progress on adaptation to climate change

What surveying 50 countries taught us about climate action

Climate Change Risk Assessment for the Insurance Industry | Research report

Disaster risk reduction

How fires have spread to previously untouched parts of the world

The space–time cube as an approach to quantifying future wildfires in California

Farmers in Western Australia's south-west corner are adapting to a life with less water

Cost of flood damage to U.S. homes will increase by 61% in 30 years

Why we should release New Zealand’s strangled rivers to lessen the impact of future floods

3 Canadian cities more prepared for flood now than they were five years ago

Our 'tree-change' and 'sea-change' dreams are under threat as scientists warn about building homes in 'risky areas'

Apocalypse now: Australian bushfires and the future of urban settlements

How can we better predict extreme weather in the Mediterranean a few weeks in advance?

European Space Agency selects CGI to develop services combining artificial intelligence and earth observation for wildfire mapping

Supercomputer creates over 700,000 years of simulated earthquakes

A Looming Disaster: New Data Reveal Where Flood Damage Is An Existential Threat

On the Impacts of Observation Location, Timing, and Frequency on Flood Extent Assimilation Performance

Urban planning and nature-based solutions, keys for reducing flood risk in Panama

South Sudan: Among countries most struck by extreme weather

Emergency management

First real-world UK data shows Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides high levels of protection from the first dose

Anger toward Texas governor grows in deadly storm's wake

The US must now commit to ensuring that COVID-19 health products will be distributed equitably and according to need at the global level

Why Ebola is back in Guinea and why the response must be different this time

Latest edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management

The Total Flood Warning System: a review of the concept

California's coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: 'The devil is already here'

Ten years post the Qld-wide Flooding of 2011- Who has done what, and why?

Tsunamis and tsunami warning: recent progress and future prospects

Superspreading drives the COVID pandemic — and could help to tame it

New Rapid Expert Consultation Offers Strategies for Navigating Disaster Response, Evacuation, and Sheltering Complicated by COVID-19

Disaster education, communications and engagement

Natural flood management measures: A practical guide for farmers

NSW SES is one of Play School’s ‘Everyday Helpers’

Bushfire Survival Plan

Virtual Floodmobile Launch

Psychology and disasters

Willingness of households to reduce flood risk in southern France

The legacy of trauma

It’s 2am, you’re sleeping, and a flash flood hits your home. Without a warning system, what do you do?

Sociology and disasters

The Mediating Role of Disaster Policy Implementation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development in Sierra Leone

They have chronic illnesses. Then, the power went out in Texas. 'It's been emotionally exhausting.'

Post-quake Christchurch has come a long way in 10 years, but is, in part, a confusion of contrasts and contradictions

Natural Hazards Have Unnatural Impacts—What More Can Science Do?

Assessing Social Equity in Disasters

Where do people fit into a global hazard model?

COVID‐19 pandemic may have increased preferences for traditional gender roles

Is Covid at risk of becoming a disease of the poor?


Get disaster resilience updates at

Get climate change updates at

If you have any links you wish to share please send them to:

 Neil Dufty

Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd

E-mail: [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter @molinostewart

Find out more about The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) at

Support for this initiative provided by Molino Stewart Pty Ltd If you wish to subscribe or unsubsribe please send an email to [email protected]

Subscribe to Molino Stewart’s free monthly newsletter ‘Floodplain Manager’ by registering your interest at [email protected]

This Week in Disaster Resilience 19th February 2021

Dear colleague,

Please find links below to some aspects of disaster resilience that were in the news this week…

Recent emergencies/disasters

Japan quake brings back memories of deadly 2011 tsunami

New Ebola outbreak declared in Guinea

Africa's confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 3.74 mln

South Africa – Over 30 Fatalities Reported After Weeks of Flooding

Albania – Floods and Evacuations in Shkodra

Bolivia – Floods Affect Thousands in Beni and Santa Cruz

Large landslide hits East Java, leaving 18 people dead or missing, Indonesia

Intense explosive activity at Etna volcano, Aviation Color Code raised to Red, Italy

Historic cold temps and snow in Wichita, Kansas

Forced evacuation of communities near Taal volcano, Philippines

Unusual, very large landslide hits Chunchi, Ecuador

3 people were killed and 10 more injured after a tornado struck coastal North Carolina

Second major winter storm threatens wide swath of U.S. with millions still suffering after first

Historic snowstorm leaves 3 dead in Greece

Persistent flooding damages thousands of homes and wide swaths of land in southern Mozambique

Volcanic activity worldwide 17 Feb 2021: Etna volcano, Pacaya, Fuego, Popocatépetl, Semeru

Peru – 1 Dead, 9 Missing After Floods and Mudslides in Cusco

Shallow M5.6 earthquake hits Iran, injuring 43 people and cutting off electricity and water to Sisakht

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Arctic Report Card Founder Discusses the Fate of the Pole

Ausgrid installs “first of many” community batteries on Sydney network

Climate action could save 'millions of lives' through clean air, diet and exercise

Mexico was once a climate leader – now it's betting big on coal

Pacific governments call for urgent action on disaster displacement in light of the climate crisis

Community forests prepare for climate change

Glacier collapse in India a worrying sign of what’s to come

Climate change is making extreme cold much less likely, despite the UK plummeting to -23°C

Increasing hurricane intensity around Bermuda linked to rising ocean temperatures

The climate coalition health report 2021: the impacts of climate change on public health

Climate risk in Africa: Adaptation and resilience

As NZ gets serious about climate change, can electricity replace fossil fuels in time?

Devastating Flood in Himalayas Highlights Risks of Development in the Era of Climate Change

A slippery slope: could climate change lead to more landslides?

EU to seek fossil fuel phase-out in energy charter treaty talks -document

New ANU institute for climate, energy & disaster solutions

Climate denialism, ‘doom porn’, deflection and The New Climate War

Why it matters that the U.S. rejoined the Paris climate agreement

How new design patterns can enable cities and their residents to change with climate change

Working paper: Climate change and human mobility - Impacts and actions across sectors

Australians fear climate change more than catching Covid, survey shows

Does Cold Weather Disprove Climate Change?

Why communication is critical to tackling the climate crisis

Heat and health in the WHO European Region: updated evidence for effective prevention

Sea level data confirms climate modeling projections were right

Disaster risk reduction

Good governance and good planning includes everyone and leads to action on reducing disaster risk

A post-quake lesson: Brick buildings should come with warnings

Mozambique: The time to prepare for the next cyclone is now

Wildfire Risk Report for every U.S. community

Supercomputer-developed AI predicts tsunami flooding in real-time on a PC

Is Texas’s Disaster a Harbinger of America’s Future?

Past earthquakes triggered large rockslides in the Eastern Alps

Slow motion precursors give earthquakes the fast slip

Learning from crisis: from disruption to transformation

U.S. housing agency faces 'systemic risk' from floods

Risky Cities Flood Project

The COVID-19 road ahead is long, winding and uncertain

Fujitsu leverages world's fastest supercomputer and AI to predict tsunami flooding

Innovation in flood risk management: An ‘Avenues of Innovation’ analysis

Emergency management

Australia Considers New Covid-19 Quarantine Strategy: Outback Isolation

Advancing the Field of Disaster Response Management: Toward a Design Science Approach

Equal, Rapid Access to Vaccines Is More Important Than Ever as New COVID-19 Variants Emerge

Labor steps up criticism of bushfire grants after damage report by federal agency revealed

COVID-19: Vaccines giving 67% protection after three weeks, large-scale research shows

Four reasons experts say coronavirus cases are dropping in the United States

Australian Disaster Mapper audit

Bushfire prediction tech to bolster emergency response efforts

Vaccine Delays in Developing Nations Risk Prolonging Pandemic

Firefighter health, wellness and fitness

Mapping the Gaps aims to address some of the issues around fragmentation of post-flood support

How soon will COVID-19 vaccines return life to normal?

Disaster education, communications and engagement

Preparing for extreme weather at your school

Among the storm chasers: witnessing the terrifying power of tornadoes

Play School team up with Australian Red Cross and The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) to share early childhood safety messages relevant during times of emergency

Citizen scientists could be the key to early earthquake warning system

AIDR is now well into the process of developing the Disaster Resilience Education for Young People Handbook

How to become a flood resilient community

Participatory early warning and monitoring systems: A Nordic framework for web-based flood risk management

Engaging haitian community leaders in emergency preparedness

Transformative learning and community resilience to cyclones and storm surges: The case of coastal communities in Bangladesh

Rivers from above

Emergency Services Affected In Australia Due To Facebook Ban Internet

Students receives training on hazard mapping

Psychology and disasters

Volcanic hazard map visualisation affects cognition and crisis decision-making

Australian bushfires: Simple activities for children and adolescents

A comparative analysis of the relationship between flood experience and private flood mitigation behaviour in the regions of England

COVID-19 and the violence against women and girls: ‘The shadow pandemic’

How the media may be making the COVID-19 mental health epidemic worse

Sociology and disasters

How do those affected by a disaster organize to meet their needs for justice? Campaign strategies and partial victories following the Grenfell Tower fire

Vaccine inequality, health systems under pressure, socio-economic fallout

Strengthening Disability Inclusion in Community-based Disaster Preparedness

‘You never know if you will be treated properly and with respect’: voices of LGBTIQA+ people who lived through disasters

Acquiring vulnerability indicators to geo-hydrological hazards: An example of mobile phone-based data collection

How heat is radically altering Americans' lives before they're even born – video

Warming stations and shelters open throughout the Houston area

England’s poorest areas hit by Covid ‘perfect storm’ – leaked report


Get disaster resilience updates at

Get climate change updates at

If you have any links you wish to share please send them to:

 Neil Dufty

Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd

E-mail: [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter @molinostewart

Find out more about The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) at

Support for this initiative provided by Molino Stewart Pty Ltd If you wish to subscribe or unsubsribe please send an email to [email protected]

Subscribe to Molino Stewart’s free monthly newsletter ‘Floodplain Manager’ by registering your interest at [email protected]

This Week in Disaster Resilience 12th February 2021

Dear colleague,

Please find links below to some aspects of disaster resilience that were in the news this week…

Recent emergencies/disasters

Himalayan landslide in Uttarakhand, India, leaving up to 150 feared dead in floods

Carnarvon residents take stock of flood damage in WA's north-west

Guadeloupe – Flash Floods Hit Basse-Terre Island After 85mm of Rain in 6 Hours

Jordan and Saudi Arabia – 4 Dead, Several Rescued After Flash Floods

France – 400 Evacuated as Floods Continue in South West

At least 24 people died in Morocco after heavy rain flooded an illegal underground textile workshop

Southwest France hit by heavy floods, Paris area on flood alert

Morocco – Deadly Flash Floods in Tangier

Brutal Covid-19 Surge in the U.S. Weakens Significantly

Severe flooding hits Belo Horizonte as more than a month's worth of rain falls in 72 hours, Brazil

Volcanic activity worldwide 10 Feb 2021: Popocatépetl volcano, Reventador, Raung, Sangay, Sinabung

Indonesia – 4 Dead, 1 Missing, 60,000 Displaced After Floods Across Java Island

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

UK climate data shows why Australia’s best bet is with wind and solar

Wealthy Victorians least likely to support climate action: poll

Sir David Attenborough warns of climate 'crisis moment'

Clear impact of climate change in Himalayan disaster

People matters – Why quantifying inclusion is key to climate adaptation

Melting glaciers, rising seas: Approaching climate tipping points

More at risk of losing homes as climate change outpaces response, Fiji warns

A comparative analysis to depict underlying attributes that might determine successful implementation of local adaptation plans

Covid caused a coal-killing carbon crunch, and it could be permanent

Australians should be worried about future emissions. To be told otherwise is absurd

Severe flood threat caused by climate change – landmark Oxford study

Fossil fuel pollution may have killed 8.7 million people in single year, says Harvard study

Big-emitting Australian businesses could soon face costly carbon levy in Europe

Weatherwatch: latest sea level rise forecast alarms scientists

Cooling La Niña is on the wane, but temperatures set to rise: UN weather agency

The effects of climate change are already making large tracts of Western Sydney uninhabitable

Disaster risk reduction

Archaeologist says he was hired as PR move over Warragamba Dam project

Water Warning: The Looming Threat of the World’s Aging Dams

Innovative solutions for flood risk management

Flooding in England 2019-21 report

Severe Weather Caused $2.4 Billion in Insured Damage in Canada in 2020$2-4-billion-in-insured-damage-in-2020

The COVID-19 pandemic challenge to the All-Hazards Approach for disaster planning

CSU civil engineers find link between hospitals and schools key to community resilience, develop tool for measuring social services stability

The Relative Value Of Fire Planning Alternatives

Hydroelectric power, dams and landslides in the Himalayas

Flood Data Improved: New Version of Live Stream Gauges in Living Atlas

Logging increases bush flammability for 30 years, research shows

Why it matters that British Columbians buy earthquake insurance; Washingtonians don’t

Emergency management

As Perth’s suburbs burn, the rest of Australia watches and learns

Syria: Floods affect nearly 70,000 displaced people

Dennis Mileti: November 7, 1945 to January 30, 2021

The 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California

Uttarakhand disaster likely caused by landslide, not glacial outburst, satellite images reveal

The catastrophic landslide and flood in Chamoli in Uttarakhand: the sequence of events

New bushfire prediction technology aims to help frontline emergency teams

Wearing a second face mask over the one you already have could help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 significantly

An emergency response technology company that works with different providers in Kenya to put the best emergency responders onto the same map

Australia Considers New Covid-19 Quarantine Strategy: Outback Isolation

Disaster education, communications and engagement

Evacuation behaviors and emergency communications: An analysis of real-world incident videos

Disaster Education For Young People newsletter

Articles and activities to aid any educator in tackling the challenging topic of climate change

A study published on Voluntary Commitments by landslide stakeholders

Not Risking It: Children and youth in climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the education sector

40-Second Video Shows A Billion Years Of Shifting Tectonic Plates

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: 11 February 2021

Psychology and disasters

Mental Health Needs in Large-Scale Shelters: Lessons From Dallas

Dynamic Risk Perception and Behavior in Response to COVID-19

Children affected by Black Saturday and other bushfires may experience trauma long after the blaze is extinguished

Poorer mental health smolders after deadly, devastating wildfire

Sociology and disasters

What Came After Hurricane Harvey for People With Disabilities? Restoring, Recovering, and Rebuilding

Reference Guides on Gender and Disaster Series

The role of social capital in disaster resilience in remote communities after the 2015 Nepal earthquake

Beyond disaster vulnerabilities: An empirical investigation of the causal pathways linking conflict to disaster risks

Gender, disaster management and the private sector: Mapping and analysis of existing resources and previous interventions


Get disaster resilience updates at

Get climate change updates at

If you have any links you wish to share please send them to:

 Neil Dufty

Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd

E-mail: [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter @molinostewart

Find out more about The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) at

Support for this initiative provided by Molino Stewart Pty Ltd If you wish to subscribe or unsubsribe please send an email to [email protected]

Subscribe to Molino Stewart’s free monthly newsletter ‘Floodplain Manager’ by registering your interest at [email protected]

This Week in Disaster Resilience 5th February 2021

Dear colleague,

Please find links below to some aspects of disaster resilience that were in the news this week…

Recent emergencies/disasters

Intensity of Cyclone Ana surprises many in Fiji

Thousands left homeless by storms, floods in Syria’s Idlib

Papua New Guinea – Deadly Landslide in Morobe Province

Fiji – Tropical Cyclone Ana Leaves 1 Dead, 5 Missing

Burundi – Floods in Bujumbura Province Force Thousands From Their Homes

Chile – Floods and Landslides After Record Rainfall

At least 85 homes lost in Perth bushfires

Greece – Firefighter Dies in Flash Floods in Evros

France – Evacuations as Rivers Rise in North and South West

Paraguay – Severe Floods Hit Central and Southern Areas

Indonesia – 25,000 Affected by Floods in East and Central Java

Volcanic activity worldwide 4 Feb 2021: Fuego volcano, Popocatépetl, Dukono, Reventador, Raung

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

The Guardian view on climate progress: the need for speed

As Biden hits the accelerator on climate action, Australia remains stuck in policy paralysis

Climate change may change rainfall patterns in south India, intensify floods: Study

Australia’s grid is reshaping itself around the surge in clean energy

If the Science is Clear, Why Do We Need More Climate Research?

America needs a climate adaptation strategy

NUS researchers develop new urban planning GIS tool to improve urban climate resilience

Climate Risk in Africa

Heat killed a record number of people in Arizona last year, 'a staggering increase'

World Losing Ice 57 Percent Faster Than In the 1990s, Study Finds

Australia needs to stop thinking that setting a target of zero emissions by 2050 is good enough

Living with water project explores coastal adaptation plans to address rising sea levels

Sea level rise could be worse than feared, warn researchers

As climate warms, summer monsoons to produce less streamflow

Florida Unveils New Statewide Sea Rise Mapping Tool

U.S. Cities Are Underestimating Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Adults should listen to children to understand the severity of the climate crisis

Why Learning Is Essential for Climate Adaptation Monitoring and Evaluation

Updated yardstick begs question: What's 'normal' in a changing climate?

EU climate change plans will ripple through foreign policy, researchers say

Simultaneous drought and heat wave events are becoming more common

Risk of extreme droughts likely to increase in Scotland

Community based flood early warning systems: Improving climate change adaptation in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region

For a City Staring Down the Barrel of a Climate-Driven Flood, A New Study Could be the Smoking Gun

Increasing risk of floods as glaciers recede in Central Andes, South America

Rising sea levels may make some airports unusable

Disaster risk reduction

Scientists identify flank instability at a volcano with history of collapse

Everbridge unveils next-generation front-end alerting interface for industry-leading global public warning platform

Indigenous rangers in WA north priced out of bushfire prevention by insurance price jump

Homeowners who put in flood defences may pay less for insurance

The age of the “megafire”

UAE-India pact to help with forecast and early warnings on cyclones, tsunamis, sand storms

Indonesia and ASEAN usher in a new era of disaster readiness, response, and risk reduction

Hurricanes and typhoons moving 30km closer to coasts every decade

Urbanization impacts on flood risks based on urban growth data and coupled flood models

Exposure to natural hazard events unassociated with policy change for improved disaster risk reduction

Assessment of trends in hydrological extremes using regional magnification factors

Flooding risk rises as UK's wetlands lost

Resilience of SMEs

Link between three typhoons that affected the Korean Peninsula in the summer of 2020 and wildfires in the western United States

Here’s why effective disaster management needs responsible AI

Latest edition of Molino Stewart’s Floodplain Manager newsletter

Storms, tornadoes and explosions: Bushfires are getting stranger. How?

2020 FM Global Resilience Index

Canadian hail storm catastrophe marked as one of most severe in North America

Resilient Shores: Vietnam’s Coastal Development Between Opportunity and Disaster Risk

Allianz Risk Barometer 2021: Covid-19 trio tops global business risks

Towards a multidimensional vulnerability index: Discussion paper

I lived through Hurricane Katrina and helped design the rebuild – floods will always come, but we can build better to prepare

Disaster risk reduction in India: Status report 2020

Status of Science and Technology in Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia-Pacific 2020

Overshadowed by COVID: the deadly extreme weather of 2020

Scientists Are Looking Beyond Antibiotics to Stop the Drug-Resistant Bacteria Crisis

Anticipating the flood: Taking early actions at the Lower Limpopo in Mozambique

Emergency management

Navigating the complexities around a COVID vaccine in Africa

Cyclone Eloise shatters Mozambique’s progress to recover from 2019 storms

Factors influencing acceptance or rejection regarding being the host community for post-disaster resettlements in developing countries

Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights south

What do new variants of the coronavirus mean for us?

The Complex Decisions Around Rebuilding After A Wildfire

How to enhance community recovery after disasters

Blue Mountains did not receive a cent from $177m NSW bushfire disaster fund

Eloise Floods Mozambique

The seven countries with better coronavirus responses than Australia

Disaster education, communications and engagement

After years of tough lessons, spanish-speaking communities rise to get wildfire information fast and in their language

Flood risk communication - final project report

Representation of disasters in school textbooks for children with intellectual disabilities in Iran: A qualitative content analysis

#SimulateThis Using role playing to help students gain experience for real-life crisis scenarios they may encounter in the future

Demystifying learning

'Bring Your Own Brigade': Film Review | Sundance 2021

Help Callum 360 video tells the true story of a young boy whose house was flooded, using his own words and seeing through his own eyes

New book: Children and Young People’s Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction

Early warnings of COVID-19 outbreaks across Europe from social media

Distant, Not Disengaged | COVID-19 and Community Engagement

Engaging with care: Incorporating ethics and compassion into disaster research

Using new digital tools and techniques, the ‘Landscapes to Lifescapes’ online exhibition provides a way to engage with different audiences about flood risk awareness

Psychology and disasters

Cooperative and competitive behaviour among passengers during the costa concordia disaster

About the Disaster Mental Health Hub

Migration not seen as solution by those in flood zone

Survey finds low public trust in local officials, higher trust in first responders

Sociology and disasters

The COVID-19 pandemic is shining an unforgiving light on the world’s most vulnerable and marginal people

White people receiving coronavirus vaccine at higher rates than Black, Latino Americans

You can’t talk about disaster risk reduction without talking about inequality

Checklist for gender equality and social inclusion in disaster/emergency preparedness in the COVID-19 context

Social capital in community response after Cyclone Winston: Case study of three different communities in Fiji

Underinsurance is entrenching poverty as the vulnerable are hit hardest by disasters


Get disaster resilience updates at

Get climate change updates at

If you have any links you wish to share please send them to:

 Neil Dufty

Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd

E-mail: [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter @molinostewart

Find out more about The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) at

Support for this initiative provided by Molino Stewart Pty Ltd If you wish to subscribe or unsubsribe please send an email to [email protected]

Subscribe to Molino Stewart’s free monthly newsletter ‘Floodplain Manager’ by registering your interest at [email protected]

Floodplain Manager December 2020 to January 2021


Happy New Year to all.

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was reflecting on the devastating bushfire season that reached across Austraila and now we have witnessed widespread flooding across the country over the past couple of months. Of course, our recent floods, though fatal, were not as devastating as those ten years ago where more than 40 lives were lost in one season. We report on commemorations and reflections of those events in this issue.

Also, this time last year we were only starting to open our eyes to the potential impacts of COVID not imagining that, amongst other things, it would turn the 2020 Floodplain Management Australia (FMA) conference into a virtual event. While Australia is fairing much better than the rest of the world, COVID still constrains how we do business and plan activities and the FMA has again had to turn the 2021 conference into an online conference.

Australia is also faring better on the flood front than many other countries. We report that 2020 was the worst year on record for flooding in the Asia Pacific region with 2.7 million people displaced in China alone. We provide links to that report along with the MunichRE’s report on natural hazard-related disasters for 2020 and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s 2020 climate report. All make sobering reading as it is clear that the impacts of natural hazards are increasing and are only likely to continue to increase with increased populations, more intense development and climate change.

That is why it is also good to report on how things are being done better. We congratulate the City of Parramatta Council on winning a Smarter Cities award for its automated flood warning system and Thuringowa State School for winning a Safer Communities award for its disaster resilience initiatives for students which came out of the wake of the 2010/11 flood season.

The Federal Government also needs to be applauded for committing $50 million to flood mitigation initiatives. Let’s hope that it is the beginning of a change in attitude to natural hazard mitigation investment with the view to bringing down the cost of our unsustainable recovery costs.

Steven Molino

Articles related to December 2020 to January 2021

Related - Floodplain Manager December 2020 to January 2021

Fatal Floods

A man has drowned and townships around the country were flooded as cyclonic activity on the east and west coast dumped rain through December and January.

Read more


King tides, heavy rain, and Tropical Cyclone Imogen have caused flooding, widespread damage and the death of one man in Queensland through December 2020 to January 2021. Parts of Brisbane were affected by a king tide which breached shoreline barriers and flooded the surrounding areas of Cleveland and Wynnum on 14 December 2020.

Areas surrounding the state’s Gold Coast area were affected by heavy rain which caused flash flooding in Currumbin, Currumbin Waters and Burleigh over 17 to 18 December 2020. At Oyster Creek, 122 mm of rain fell in two hours on 17 December 2020 which caused several roads to be closed . In Killarney on Queensland’s border, a farmer was tragically killed as his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters as he attempted to move his cattle to higher ground.

Tropical Cyclone Imogen crossed the far north Queensland coast on 3 January 2021 bringing with it heavy rainfall and flooding. Normanton airport recorded 259mm in 24 hours leading to 4 January, with 186 mm in just three hours. By 4 January, the system had been downgraded to a tropical low, but not before causing power outages to 1,000 customers and damage to homes from fallen trees and debris. As the system progressed through the state, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service received 103 calls for help . At Herbert River north of Ingham, flooding was observed as the river at Lower Herbert at Halifax reached the major flood level (5.3 metres) which cut numerous roads (Read here, here, here, here , here, here, and here)

In Byron Bay in northern NSW, severe storms and heavy rainfall caused intense erosion on the region’s Main Beach. A severe weather warning was in place for damaging winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and damaging surf on the Northern Rivers and parts of the Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands. Over 150 mm of rain fell in the 24 hours to 14 December 2020 in Cape Byron. The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) received 56 calls for assistance over the weekend of the 11 December and undertook swift water rescues of five people.

Elsewhere, in the central western NSW town of Parkes, 31 mm of rain fell in 17 minutes on 2 January 2021. The intense rainfall caused flooding of a motel and supermarket as well as the partial collapse of the roof of an aged care facility. The NSW SES responded to 300 incidents state-wide including several rescues of people trapped inside their vehicles after driving through floodwaters. (Read here, here and here)

Western Australia
Inland WA has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding following a tropical low which crossed the coast at Port Headland before bringing severe weather to the Goldfields and Midlands regions of the state. Abydos, north of Newman, recorded 131.6 mm of rain in the 24 hours to 12 December 2020. Meanwhile, the Coongan River at Marble Bar peaked at 8.4 metres, which is approximately 5 metres above the major flood level. (Read here)

A one-in-50 year storm occurring on 2 January 2021 in Warrnambool caused widespread flooding. In just 12 minutes on 2 January 2021, more than 30 mm of rain fell in the town leaving homes and businesses inundated. SES teams from surrounding areas were brought in to assist in rescues and to direct the evacuation of a holiday park which became inundated with flood waters. (Read here).

2020 Climate Statement Released

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its annual climate statement for 2020 revealing it to be the fourth warmest on record and marked by bushfires, floods and La Niña.

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The statement reports that the 2020 national mean temperature was 1.15 °C above average with Penrith, NSW recording its hottest temperature on record (48.9°C). The year began with intense heat and bushfires with below average rainfall for parts of west and southeast Queensland despite 4% above average total annual rainfall for the country overall. In February, flash flooding and riverine flooding affected parts of southeast and inland Queensland and inland and coastal areas of New South Wales, extending into the second half of the month. Significant flood levels were recorded in numerous Queensland catchments, most notably in the Georgina/Eyre, Logan/Albert, Condamine/Balonne, and Warrego catchments. In eastern New South Wales major flooding occurred on the Orara, Hawkesbury/Nepean, and Georges rivers.  Eight tropical cyclones were recorded in the broader Australian region during the 2019–20 tropical cyclone season, which is below the long-term average of eleven (for all years since 1969–70). Tropical cyclone Esther made landfall close to the Northern Territory and the Queensland border on 24 February bringing heavy rain and flooding to the Georgina, Diamantina, Bulloo, Paroo, and Warrego rivers and the Cooper Creek catchment (Read here).

Decade Since Disaster: Queensland Floods Ten Years On

Queensland marks the 10th anniversary of the historic 2011 floods with exhibitions of shared experiences and memories of lives lost.

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Widespread flooding across many parts of the state claimed the lives of 33 people (with three still unaccounted for) and saw more than 78% of the state declared a disaster zone (FM February 2011). Funding from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements banner has allowed infrastructure to be built to a more flood resilient standard with local councils also contributing more than $2 million to these projects.  (Read here, here and here).

Flood Resilience Work Among the 2020 Winners of Resilient Australia Awards

"Building Australia's Flood Resilience" was recognised as a highly commended project in the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience awards announced in December 2020.

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This Queensland-based initiative started as a series of pro-bono grassroots actions that took place in the wake of the 2011 Queensland floods, and has grown into work for governments, industry and academia. It aims to help communities “build back better” by helping design flood resilient homes and creating flood resilience guides for state and local governments. One achievement has been successfully lobbying the insurance industry to recognise flood resilient building design and reduce insurance costs accordingly. The winner of the Resilient Australia National School Award also drew from flooding in Queensland; this student-driven project from the Thuringowa State School connects students through a platform to promote community resilience and engagement before, during and after disaster events.  (Read here).

Parramatta Flood Warning System wins Smart City Award

The City of Parramatta Council was recognised for its FloodSmart flash flood warning system, which is the first of its kind in Australia.

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The city was one of 18 winners announced by the Smart Cities Council Australia and New Zealand in December 2020. It was awarded the Leadership City Award, acknowledgement for its investments in smart technology and data-driven solutions. The City of Parramatta had three other projects that it gained recognition for in addition to FloodSmart, one of which is an environmental sensor network that monitors stormwater runoff, temperature, air quality, and noise. These technologies are seen as key to managing growth in the flood-prone city.  (Read more here).

Review of NSW SES Response to 2017 Lismore Floods

The NSW SES has admitted to inadequate handling in its response to flooding in the wake of Cyclone Debbie which affected 68% of businesses in Lismore.

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The Lismore Citizens Flood Review Group coordinator Beth Trevan said the group’s research into the flood response found local information and knowledge was omitted from the decision-making process during the 2017 floods. At the time, a moderate flood warning was in place for Lismore, with river levels not forecast to breach the city’s levee. The SES issued an immediate evacuation order just four hours later for North Lismore, South Lismore and the Lismore CBD in the wake of a major flood forecast. The review group argues that the lack of a timely warning did not give businesses and residents enough time to prepare and move valuable items and stock out of harm’s way. In response, SES Deputy Commissioner Daniel Austin visited Lismore following the floods and acknowledged that there had been an “…exclusion of local knowledge in some of the decision-making process”. Mr Austin said warning systems had been reviewed but those living in flood-prone areas had a role to play as well by “being vigilant of what’s coming, and knowing what your triggers are and what your plans are”.  (Read more here).

Clearer Warnings for Floods and Cyclones

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) has developed the Australian Warning System which provides a new approach for emergency warnings for hazards like floods.

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The system which included a 16,000 strong research team, aims to deliver a more unified approach to emergency warnings across jurisdictions. It uses a nationally consistent set of icons to show incidents on websites and apps, supported by calls to action which are consistent across all hazards. There are three warning levels: Advice (yellow), Watch and Act (Orange) and Emergency Warning (Red). (Read more here and here).

$50 million National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Fund

The Australian Government has announced the establishment of a $50 million National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Fund to help Australian communities better prepare for extreme weather events and flooding.

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The program was established under the Emergency Response Fund and reflects on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (FM April 2020), the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, and findings of the State of the Climate Report 2020 (FM November 2020). The funding initiative will support state, territory and local governments to improve or construct essential public infrastructure to better withstand severe flood events.  (Read more here).

Insurers Hike Catastrophe Allowance Following 2020 Weather Events

One of Australia’s largest insurers, QBE, has increased it allowance for catastrophic weather claims, after breaching its US$550 million cap in 2020.

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Increasingly severe local weather in Australia has caused reinsurers to re-evaluate the risk posed by extreme weather. In recent years, cyclones, floods and bushfires have caused reinsurance costs to surpass the premiums collected from Australian business. The increased allowance may mean that insurers will raise premiums in order to cover the increasingly expensive reinsurance, which protects insurers from mass claim events such as floods and bushfires. For 2021, US$685 million will be set aside by QBE for claims related to extreme weather.  (Read more here).

NSW Floodplain Harvesting May Be Illegal

The practice of capturing flood waters moving across plains using levees and dams is most likely illegal under the Water Management Act 2000, unless irrigators have a development consent and a water access licence.

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The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is assessing more than 1,000 dams, many involving potentially illegal earthworks and has found that 13% of these are specific to flood work which has an effect on the distribution or flow of water. Analysis shows that the median annual inflow in the Murray Darling Basin over the past 20 years is approximately half that of the preceding century. It is thought that a proliferation of on-farm storages that divert and capture flows before they reach the river system are the primary cause.  Under the 1912 Act, this practice was likely legal. But after 2000, when the Water Management Act came into force, the status of floodplain harvesting has become much more ambiguous.  (Read more here and here).

Coastal Wetlands Mitigated $27 billion in Storm Damage over past 50 Years

A paper published in Ecosystem Services has found that Australia’s coastal wetlands can measurably reduce cyclone and hurricane damage by absorbing storm surges and slowing winds.

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The researchers examined 54 cyclones which struck Australia between 1967 and 2016 including data on their physical damage, gross domestic product (GDP) in the storm’s path, maximum windspeed, and total wetland area. They found that for every hectare of wetland, about $4,200 per year in cyclone damage was avoided. It is estimated that if the average cyclone path in Australia were to contain around 30,000 hectares of wetlands, it would avert about 90% of potential storm damage. As cyclones are set to increase under a changed climate, preservation of wetlands can provide a more cost-effective defence structure than artificial counterparts such as sea walls.  (Read more here).

2021 FMA Conference to be Virtual

The annual Floodplain Management Australia conference is to be held online in light of recent COVID-19 outbreaks and unforeseeable restrictions.

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The 2021 conference which was to be hosted in Sydney’s Luna Park will now be held online to avoid any unforeseen restrictions due to COVID outbreaks. The virtual conference will be held online from 25 to 28 May 2021 with the program being announced soon. The FMA intends to reschedule the Luna Park in person venue for the 2023 conference.

The Impacts of Flood Risk Perception on Flood Policy

Flood risk perception can affect local governments’ preferences on implementation of flood risk management measures, such as choosing to invest in structural or non-structural solutions.

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A study examining flood-prone communities in Switzerland has found that local governments with high flood risk perception generally prefer non-structural flood management measures. These non-structural measures include spatial planning and ecological river restoration, as opposed to infrastructure measures. Flood exposure itself was found to not relate to flood risk perception or flood policy preferences. This highlights the need for investment in raising awareness of populations’ awareness of flood risks, even when flooding has not recently been experienced.  (Read more here).

Bangladesh Battles to Balance the Costs and Benefits of Floods

As a country that is 80% floodplain, Bangladesh seeks to find adaptations that balance the natural necessity and destructive powers of floods.

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Bangladesh is already experiencing the impacts of an intensified monsoon as a result of climate change, which affected over 300,000 people in 2020 and caused an exodus of people from rural areas into city slums. However, regular flooding is also essential to replenish agricultural soils. The construction of embankments or polders designed to protect against flooding has been found to make monsoonal flooding worse while disrupting sediment flow. Indigenous techniques to work with the floods, such as creating localised elevated flood islands for dwellings surrounded by low-lying farmlands, combined with evidence-based research are now being promoted as ways to find a balance between flooding benefits and risks. Additionally, the use of flood-resistant building materials and new insurance schemes to help compensate workers for their lost wages due to flooding are being trialled as ways to increase community flood resilience.  (Read more here, here and here).

Development Exacerbates Flooding Impacts from Sea-Level Rise in World’s Deltas

Both subsidence due to development and sea-level rise increase the vulnerability of coastal communities in Bangladesh.

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While deltas around the globe are experiencing significant impacts from global climate change, local development may be the largest contributor to relative sea-level rise. The construction of dams on rivers is rapidly reducing sediment supply in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh. Deltas require sediment inputs and natural barriers such as mangroves to remain above sea level, both of which are threatened by increasing development. Dams are not the only culprit; Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is experiencing subsidence as rapid as 2.2 cm a year due to groundwater extraction and intensified urban infrastructure. More sustainable and nature-based development policies are required to help keep the delta communities above water.  (Read more here).

Record Year for Flooding in Asia-Pacific is just the start

In the wake of Asia-Pacific’s record-breaking flooding year, it is predicted that by 2030, $8.5 trillion of Asia’s economic assets will be at risk of riverine flooding each year.

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Asia has seen extreme economic losses, loss of life, and widespread displacement of populations due to floods in 2020. Super typhoon Goni, one of the strongest storms to have made landfall worldwide, affected nearly 70 million people and caused the evacuation of 1 million people. Last year, 2.7 million people evacuated in China alone due to flooding, while over 4,500 landslides occurred in Nepal. Multiple strong tropical storms exacerbated the flooding impacts of an unusually active monsoon season in Vietnam, leading to over 100 deaths. Climate models predict that the monsoon will bring heavier rains while the dry season becomes longer, which will lead to more damaging flooding in the region. Analysis shows that Asia will account for half of the world’s total assets at risk of flooding in the year 2030 under climate change projections, with a large proportion of the losses concentrated in China. However, funding to build community resilience falls short of promises, while infrastructure is preferentially funded over programs such as early warning systems and wetland restoration.  (Read more here, here, here and here).

Study Finds 57% of Global Economy to Face Increased Flood Risk by 2040

Within the next 20 years, over half of the world’s global economy could be exposed to flood risk, with more than one third of current agricultural lands subject to high water stress.

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By 2040, up to 3.6 billion people will be exposed to flood risk. Over half of the populations of small island developing nations will be exposed to hurricanes and typhoons amplified by sea-level rise. In Africa alone, 35 million hectares of agriculture and over 125 million people will be exposed to increased water stress, threatening human lives and large-scale food security. Regardless of size or resources, all nations face significant natural hazard risks as a result of climate change, and this risk will be increasing in the coming decades.  (Read more here).

Comparing Modelled and Actual Flood Risk

A study examining the difference between modelled flood losses and insurance payouts to flood victims over the past 20 years in England has found that models can greatly overestimate the actual values.

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This study suggests that flood risk modelling must be supported by calibration or validation with values from surveys of damages post-floods, and careful attention must be given to the quality of model data inputs. The reasons that the models were up to nine times more than the actual insurance compensation paid out to flood victims remain unclear. It was found that modelled non-residential property losses are particularly overestimated compared to residential property losses. The study also explores the possibility that much flood damage is reduced or eliminated through good incident management, which is not accounted for in the models.  (Read more here).

New AI Model for Rapid Ensemble Forecasting

AMachine learning can be used to analyse past weather patterns to predict future events much more quickly and with similar accuracy as traditional computing-intensive weather forecasting models.

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The forecasting is based on recognising patterns from large quantities of past examples of weather events, as opposed to detailed physics calculations that traditional forecasting models use. While it is not as accurate as today’s best forecasting models, the AI design uses 7,000 times less computing power to create forecasts. This allows for a large number of models to be run with slightly different starting conditions in “ensemble forecasts.” With a growing amount of previous forecast and weather observation datasets to learn from, this new technique shows promise as a fast and efficient forecasting technique.  (Read more here).

Using Deep Learning Methods to Establish the Safest Flood Evacuation Plans and Routes

This new study uses deep learning methods paired with publicly available datasets to develop forecasting tools that can help mitigate flood risk along evacuation routes during flash flooding.

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Using a case study in Missouri, USA, the researchers compiled available flood data to understand the rate of rise of flood waters. Using deep learning methods, these inputs were used to model evacuation or detour planning modules that can help find a safer route for people and goods on public roadways. The modules were linked to existing real-time rainfall gauges and weather forecasts to improve the accuracy and usability. This approach could be tailored to specific regions to develop better informed evacuation planning.  (Read more here).

“Glocal” Solution Needed for Better Flood Responses

Merging global forecasting with local observations can help better predict floods and mitigate risk.

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This approach requires the integration of meteorological and hydrological observations, techniques, measurements and modelled data in order to formulate a more encompassing view of flood occurrences. It pairs the regional spatial distribution of flood risk and past events with local details. Researchers plan to assess this approach using on-the-ground observations and remote-sensing instruments in real time, to increase the confidence in applying this tool in emergency management decision making. Although this idea has been around for many years, the computing capability and data availability is making this kind of solution more practical.  (Read more here).

Women More Likely to Experience Psychological Distress After Floods

Women who have experienced floods are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men.

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Overall, flood victims were up to nine times more likely to develop long-term mental health problems compared to those who had never experienced a flood. The study found that people reported a loss of sense of place and security. Undergoing evacuation or temporary rehoming increased rates of distress, anxiety, depression and PTSD. However, those who were given a flood warning of 12 hours or more reported lower rates of anxiety and PTSD compared to those who did not have a flood warning. In addition to mental health problems, physical illnesses were associated with experiencing flooding, such as conditions resulting from being exposed to pollutants and water-borne pathogens.  (Read more here).

UK Insurance Firm Offering Mental Health Support for Clients Impacted by Flooding

Zurich UK is now addressing the trauma caused by floods by offering counselling sessions for flood-affected customers.

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Last year, only about 15% of those who were offered the counselling sessions took it up, with the majority being women. However, this shift sees free counselling services included as a standard part of flood policies. This comes as awareness improves surrounding the toll flooding takes on mental health; in Britain in 2013-2014, those impacted by flooding were 50% more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health impacts. This move shows recognition that repairing flooded homes is no longer a sufficient response, and that mental health impacts must also be addressed.  (Read more here).

Restoring Natural Floodplains Can Assist CO2 Absorption

Freshwater wetlands not only help prevent flooding by absorbing floodwaters but are crucial carbon sinks.

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While they only account for 6% of the world’s surface, wetlands store about 30% of all carbon held in the soil. However, two thirds of Europe’s wetlands are severely degraded, reducing their capacity to store carbon. The restoration of only 15% of degraded floodplains could provide storage for 30% of the increase in anthropogenic CO2 since industrialisation, helping significantly mitigate against climate change. Wetland floodplains serve as natural flood barriers by both absorbing flood waters and storing sediments that would otherwise runoff into water bodies.  (Read more here).

Explaining Flood Risk Perception

This study found that most respondents believe that the responsibility for flood preparedness is equally shared by institutions and citizens, highlighting the need to involve the community in risk management efforts.

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Based on interviews with people exposed to flood risk in Tuscany, Italy, it was found that proximity to a river is the strongest variable correlating with flood risk perception, as well as having previous experience with flooding. However, people living in the highest flood risk areas underestimated the objective flood risk they face. It found that higher risk awareness does not necessarily correlate with better preparedness. Few people were aware of the Local Emergency Plan in place. These results show that future risk awareness campaigns need to focus on those in the highest risk areas and need to draw on communication strategies that help people have more agency over their own security.  (Read more here).

Impacts of Dams in Reducing Climate-Related Flood Exposure

Explicitly considering the impacts of dams in flood mitigation significantly reduces the number of people exposed to floods under modelled future climate change scenarios.

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Although half of the world’s major river systems are regulated by dams, previous studies on flood prediction typically neglect the role of dams in mitigating flood risk due to data scarcity and challenges in parameterising their impacts in models. This new modelling framework quantifies the changes in the frequency of low-probability floods when dams are considered. Accounting for dams reduces the population exposed to flooding by up to 20% under future climate change scenarios. The potential failure and environmental problems caused by dams also must be considered along with their role in reducing flood exposure.  (Read more here).

Can Floating Architecture Help Africa’s Largest City Combat Flooding?

Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, looks to floating architecture and water transport to adapt to rising sea levels.

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Seasonal rains cause widespread issues in the city, with streets flooding due to dysfunctional waste disposal causing blockage of drains. At the same time, the city is facing the impacts of sea-level rise, which threatens to displace millions of people in the city. Adaptations such as floating buildings that can withstand increasingly high waters are being trialled in Makoko, a slum built on canals. Water transport such as UberBoat is also expanding as the population seeks an alternative to flooded streets. Improved flood forecasting is also seen as a powerful tool in combating floods, as the Nigerian government has designed a mobile app to help coastal and agricultural regions better prepare for heavy rains. Flooding impacts are predicted to worsen as the climate changes, and innovative solutions are increasingly required to mitigate the impacts of floods.  (Read more here).

International Floods

There were 51 international floods reported across 35 countries throughout December 2020 to January 2021. At least 196 people died and more than 173,000 were displaced. 

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Internationally significant floods included:

Sri Lanka

More than 10,000 people have been displaced by flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Burevi. The system made landfall in the country’s north eastern Trincomalee district bringing heavy rainfall of 279.8 mm in 24 hours recorded in Akkarayan Kulam on 3 December 2020, winds of 90km/h, and storm surges of 1 metre. In the Jaffna district 152 houses were damaged and 15 were completely destroyed. (Read more here)

Democratic Republic of Congo

Heavy rainfall in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa of 69 mm in 24 hours to 7 December 2020 has caused extensive flooding in several western regions of the country which has left at least 22 people dead. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, particularly in the northern areas of Ulvira where the Kavimvira river broke its banks. (Read more here, and here)


At least 24 people have died, and 500,000 households have been affected by heavy rainfall and flooding in the southern parts of the country. Nakhon Si Thammarat recorded 83.9 mm of rain and Phatthalung 94.1 mm in the 24 hours leading to 2 December 2020. (Read more here)


Fiji declared a state of natural disaster when Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Vanua Levu on 11 December 2020. Two people died and at least 24,000 people stayed in 457 evacuation centres across the country. (Read more here)


At least 12 people have died and as many as 80 people have been displaced by floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain in Santa Catarina State. Floods and landslides have damaged roads, bridges and infrastructure in the municipalities of Aurora, Apiúna, Ascurra in the Vale do Itajai region, along with areas of Sul Catarinense and Florianópolis regions. The city of Florianópolis, recorded 91 mm of rain in 24 hours to 17 December. Search and rescue efforts are under way for several people who were thought to have been swept away by mudslides. Elsewhere in the Rio de Janeiro State, at least one person has died, and three houses have collapsed as a result of severe flooding in the Baixada Fluminense Region on 22 December 2020. (Read more here and here)

Papua New Guinea

Heavy rains in the remote area of Central Province have caused a landslide that has killed 15 people as of 28 December 2020. The landslide has engulfed numerous homes at an alluvial gold mining camp in the Goilala District where search and recovery efforts have been hampered by further heavy rainfall. (Read more here)


As many as 50,000 people were evacuated by heavy rain which has caused flooding in many regions of the country, with Pahang currently the worst affected. At least six people have died as a result of the unusually strong monsoon rains. Rivers in the state were above the danger mark in at least nine locations, including the Pahang river in Jerantut district which stood at 55.84 metres as of 5 January, well above the danger mark of 52 metres. (Read more here and here)


Indonesia experienced 185 natural disasters in the first three weeks of 2021 alone, most of which were floods, hurricanes and landslides. Heavy rainfall on Borneo displaced over 30,000 people and killed over a dozen in mid-January. Landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed 40 people in Indonesia’s West Java. In addition, five people were killed and 500 were evacuated after floods and landslides occurred in North Sulawesi province. (Read more here, here, here, here, and here)


Webinar: Flood Disaster Risk Management in a Changing Climate Online Course
Where: Webinar
When: Multiple July to December 2020
For more information visit here.

Flood and Coast 2020 Conference and Exhibition
Where: Telford International Centre, UK
When: 8 to 10 December 2020
For more information visit here.

Coastal GeoTools Conference
Where: Virtual
When: 08 to 11 February 2021
For more information visit here.

International Conference on Urban Flood Control and River Flood Management
Where: Singapore
When: 03 to 04 May 2021
For more information visit here.

Association of State Floodplain Managers 45th Annual National Conference
Where: Raleigh Convention Center, North Carolina
When: 9 to 12 May 2021
For more information visit here.

Floodplain Management Australia Conference 2021
Where: Online event
When: 25 to 28 May 2021
Call for abstracts open now. For more information visit here.

FLOODrisk 2020 European Conference on Flood Risk Management
Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: 21 to 25 June 2021
For more information visit here.

2020 International Conference on Flood Management
Where: The University of Iowa, USA
When: 9 to 11 August 2021
For more information visit here.

Flood Expo
Where: Birmingham, UK
When: 22 to 23 September 2021
For more information visit here.


Producing More Useable Flood Data

The Brigstow Institute from the University of Bristol is bringing together multidisciplinary researchers to engage with global stakeholders working in flood relief. It is working to better understand organisations’ flood data needs to produce more useable science, and is creating maps to gain insights into flood data. (Read here)

BOM State of the Climate 2020: Webinar

The Bureau of Meteorology hosted a webinar that unpacks the 2020 State of the Climate report. The webinar highlights the currently felt impacts of climate change and addresses the projections for the future that will affect all Australians. (Read here)

Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry Final Report Released

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published the Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry in December 2020. This covers the wide-ranging inquiry into the supply of home contents and strata insurance in north Australia and sets out the analysis and recommendations made throughout the three year inquiry. (Read here)

Maitland’s Flood History Book

A new book has been published that examines Maitland’s flood history from a local perspective. Chas Key’s book includes interviews of personal flood stories and delves into how experience has impacted attitudes and perceptions of flood risk of local residents. (Read here)

“Flooded Out of My Home” Explores Flooding in South Wales

In the wake of the worst flooding to hit South Wales in 40 years, this documentary examines how families and communities are recovering after the floods. It investigates the price that has to be paid to protect against extreme weather events and asks who will be paying it. (Read here)

Natural Disaster Figures for 2020

This Munich RE report examines the natural disaster figures for 2020, including the record hurricane season in the North Atlantic. Natural catastrophe losses in 2020 were significantly higher than in 2019. The report found that floods in China were responsible for the highest individual losses of US$17 billion, only 2% of which was insured. (Read here)

UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020

The UN has published its fifth edition of the Adaptation Gap Report 2020, which examines the status of planning for, financing and implementing adaptation measures against climate impacts such as floods and sea-level rise. It focuses on nature-based and locally appropriate solutions in developing countries. (Read here)

Visualising Early Warning Information to Support Effective Decision Making

Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience has published a guide on aspects to consider when creating visualisations of early warning information. It has the goal of improving communications to be more usable and help save lives.(Read here)