Tragically another life has been lost to flooding in Australia in September, and from news reports it would appear to be another instance of someone driving into floodwaters. During that same time, we report that nearly 500 people have died in floods worldwide and more than half a million people have been displaced. In many instances it is reported that the deaths could have been avoided with better urban design or building construction. Yet in the poorer nations where the majority of these fatalities occur, the daily pressure to simply survive pushes aside flood safety considerations as unapproved or shoddily built structures encroach onto floodplains and even into waterways.
As with many natural hazards, it is the poorest in our communities who are hardest hit. They have less choice as to where they live and have limited financial means to be better prepared or be able to recover. This month we report on not only theoretical ways of dealing with the inequities of flooding but actual practical measures to improve flood warning for the millions at risk in India and Bangladesh.
We have also found this month more resources which suggest ways of accelerating forecasts, disseminating warnings and improving communications. With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a wet spring and summer for Australia and more climate change models suggesting greater sea level rise and extreme weather events than previously forecast, there is greater imperative for Australia and the rest of the world to use some of these tools to be better prepared. Otherwise, we will be reporting on more avoidable flood tragedies.