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.