Floodplain Manager March 2020


Two’s company, three’s a contagion risk!

What an extraordinary turn of events since my last editorial.  Undoubtedly many of you are working from home, as all at Molino Stewart have been for a couple of weeks now.  It has highlighted how vulnerable our businesses, community institutions and homes are to disruption.  Because we are in the business of risk management we perhaps adapted reasonably quickly but it was not without its unexpected hiccups.  I am pleased to say that for Molino Stewart, at this time, it is business as (un)usual, just from a different work environment.  We appreciate that many businesses are not that fortunate, including many of our clients in the tourism, entertainment and leisure industries and our hearts go out to all who are hurting badly from these changes.  We are also grieved by the trauma and loss of life this virus is causing and we are hopeful that the severe measures that have been put in place will significantly slow its spread.

The COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the need for clear messaging and practical advice on appropriate risk mitigation behaviours, as well as how there will always be some in the community who consider themselves to be immune to the risks and who believe their behaviour will not pose a risk to others.  Again, we see these issues on a smaller scale with floods and other natural hazards.  So how do you better communicate risks and encourage appropriate behaviours?  Wiley has recently published ‘Disaster Education, Communication and Engagement’ a book which has been written by long-time Molino Stewart team member Neil Dufty.  Those of you who know Neil would acknowledge his wealth of knowledge and experience in this field and I congratulate him on pulling together a well-researched and practical resource for the disaster management community.

Of the many interesting articles in this month’s edition, the one that really caught my attention was an archaeological investigation of the impacts of the 1642 Yellow River flood which killed 300,000 people and destroyed the former Chinese capital city of Kaifung.  Of particular note were the observations that where flood defences were breached, the existence of those defences amplified the damages, perhaps a 380 year old lesson in the “levee effect” which we are still to learn.

At this time of year I would normally be looking forward to catching up with many of you in May at the annual FMA conference.  We may yet do so as the FMA looks at ways of running the conference online.  Who knows what the world will look like by the time I write the next editorial.

Steven Molino

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