Related - Floodplain Manager June 2021

Victoria Floods Claim Two Lives

Major flooding in Victoria caused two deaths and prompted evacuations.

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A complex low pressure system brought sustained strong winds and heavy rain to Victoria from 9 June 2021. Some areas of the West Gippsland and South Gippsland districts experienced more than 200 mm of rainfall in 24 hours, including 267 mm at Mount Tassie. This came with heavy winds, including gusts of over 100 km/hr. Heavy rainfall caused the Traralgon Creek to rise from 1 metre to 5.78 metres, almost a metre above the major flood level, in about 12 hours between 9 and 10 June 2021. The Thomson River at Cowwarr reached 7.57 metres on 10 June, which is over 2 metres above the major flood level. Major flood warnings were also in place for the Avon, Latrobe, Macalister and Yarra Rivers. Evacuation orders were issued, including for Traralgon, although COVID-19 restrictions prevented evacuees from staying in an evacuation centre. More than 200,000 homes were left without electricity. A man in his 60s was found dead in floodwaters in a submerged car in Woodside, in Central Gippsland, and the body of a woman in her 20s was found in a vehicle in Glenfyne in south west Victoria. Insurers have received more than 8,000 claims from the Victorian floods, with the numbers expected to rise. People returning to their homes after the flood have been warned of hazards including damaged buildings, snakes, and contaminated water.

(Read more here, here, here and here).

Spider Webs Blanket Victoria After Floods

To escape from floodwaters, “ballooning” spiders have covered Gippsland with webs.

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Millions of spiders in flood-affected Victoria have ballooned, becoming airborne by releasing gossamer threads to catch the wind. These threads allow the spiders to seek higher ground on elevated surfaces such as road signs, trees and tall grasses. This commonly occurs after sudden and heavy rainfall. While each spider may only release one thread, the large number of individual spiders simultaneously ballooning has resulted in blankets of spider webs across paddocks and roadsides in the region. (Read more here).

South-West Western Australian Floods

Flooding from torrential rains in southern Western Australia has devastated rural properties.

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Albany and Denmark, Western Australia experienced up to 100 mm of rain on 20 June 2021 which resulted in localised flooding. Trees were brought down throughout the area and over 15,000 homes left without power. One farm reported losing 100 sheep in the floodwaters. The town of Elleker flooded when the man-made levee fuse plug collapsed after the storm. Water Corporation is investigating why it failed, and whether its failure caused widespread flooding. Residents say that the same plug was damaged during floods in 1991. (Read more here and here).

March East Coast Flooding Cost $916 Million

Catastrophe insurance market data provider PERILS estimates AUD$916 million of insured losses from the March 2021 floods in New South Wales and Queensland.

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The loss estimates are based on data collected from the majority of the Australian insurance market and includes losses in property. NRMA, a major Australian insurer, says that New South Wales experienced three times the five-year average number of insurance claims during the autumn period, with more than 14,000 claims filed. The March 2021 floods make up 76% of all claims made in the period. Port Macquarie and the Mid-North Coast region were the worst for damage, followed by Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. (Read more here and here).

Eastern Australia Set for More Rain

Warming sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s north-western coast are set to produce high rainfall in central and eastern parts of the country over this winter and spring.

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In addition to higher expected rainfall due to the warming Indian Ocean, conditions over the equatorial Pacific Ocean may bring another La Niña event by the end of spring and the potential for more rain. Climate change is expected to warm the atmosphere and increase its capacity to store moisture, allowing heavy rainfall events to increase in intensity. With soils in Eastern Australia already saturated following one of the wettest periods on record for the area, there is a high potential for further flooding this year triggered by high rainfall. (Read more here).

Study Finds Climate Change is Intensifying Southern Hemisphere Waves

New scientific research suggests that warmer oceans due to climate change are making waves more powerful and threatening coastal ecosystems and communities.

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Increased heat energy in the oceans is producing waves with greater heights and the potential to cause more erosive damage. This trend is most prominent near the equator, where variability in wave strength is driven by climate change. Low-lying coastal communities in areas where the sea surface temperature is increasing, such as island nations in the Pacific Ocean, will have high exposure to the potential for waves of greater heights to erode land and damage property. (Read more here and here).

Monitoring Australia’s Floods Via Satellite

A recent study used Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite data to monitor the March 2021 flood of Windsor on the Hawkesbury River.

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SAR satellites are ideal for flood monitoring as they can image the Earth’s surface in a range of weather conditions, including through clouds and fog. The Capella satellite system was compared to Sentinel-1 images for monitoring the Windsor flood and it was concluded that the higher spatial resolution offered by Capella made it a better tool for identifying which areas were flooded and which were not. (Read more here).

Community-Led Resilience Program

A new program led by the Minderoo Foundation aims to strengthen the resilience of Australian communities to natural hazards and disasters.

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The program will expand resource, knowledge and investment bases at the local level, providing communities with the materials to build their capability for responding to shocks and events. It is intended to promote community-led resilience. (Read more here).

Fast Food Flood Resilience

Cooking classes organised by Practical Action are promoting the diversification of livelihoods and increased flood resilience in Nepal.

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Monsoon floods regularly destroy the crops and kill livestock on farms in Nangapur, a village in western Nepal close to the Karnali River. The cost of repairs can send families into debt. Cooking classes organised by Practical Action, a partner of Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, provides local residents with the skills to open their own businesses and diversify their income. Additional income can be used for on-farm flood mitigation and to repair flood damage. (Read more here).

Mapping Poverty and Flood Risk

Mapping of flood exposure in Indonesian cities has identified subdistricts with high vulnerability to floods, based on socio-economic data and flood hazard maps.

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The poor are often disproportionately affected by the impacts of floods in Indonesia as they are more likely to live in areas of high flood hazard and do not have access to the financial resources necessary to fund recovery. The World Bank has mapped the population’s exposure to floods in three Indonesian cities, taking both flood hazard and socio-economic factors into consideration. The results show that the flood risk is already high in many of these urban communities. Urgent action is required to build resilience into development, reducing the socio-economic drivers of vulnerability and alleviating flood risks. (Read more here)

Indian Monsoon Intensifying

The Indian Monsoon this year announced its onset with a May rainfall 74% greater than the long period average, the second highest recorded since 1900.

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Both the 2019 and 2020 monsoon rainfalls were considered excessively high, with last year’s rainfall influenced by a strong La Niña, although in 2021 the monsoon rainfall is projected to be normal. Since 2005 extreme climate events, such as floods, droughts and cyclones, have increased in intensity, frequency and unpredictability in India. The number of districts and people exposed to these extreme climate events is also increasing, with 97.51 million people now exposed to extreme floods. (Read more here and here).

Climate Change Causing Increased Frequency and Intensity of Extreme Rainfall

A synthesis of over 170 peer-reviewed journal articles concludes that extreme rainfall events are becoming more intense due to climate change, increasing the risk of flooding.

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Climate change warms the atmosphere, allowing it to hold more water vapour which can then fall as rain. The increased intensity of rainfall events leads to higher flood hazard in small and urban catchments where floods are driven by rainfall rates exceeding the drainage capacity of the catchments. In particular, flash flood hazard is likely to rise in urban areas where impermeable surfaces increase surface run-off. However, for most other catchment types, climate change seems to reduce high river flows. (Read more here).

Data-Driven Community Flood Resilience Categorisation Framework

New research published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction has developed a community flood resilience categorisation framework to guide flood mitigation strategies.

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Flood risk analysis has tended to concentrate on hydrologic features of floods without considering the community’s long-term losses and recovery time. This new categorisation framework incorporates community resilience using unsupervised machine learning techniques and is intended to guide the development of resilience strategies, particularly in the evolving context of climate change and expanding urban development. The framework has been applied to historical flood records for mainland USA, evaluating community flood resilience in different counties and suggesting that Oregon is the mainland US state that has had the lowest resilience to historical floods. (Read more here).

Targeted Approach to Helping Small Businesses Recover from Floods

The University of Leeds is leading an insurance study examining both the direct and indirect financial costs of flooding to Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK.

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The project developed a new economic assessment tool for estimating the cost of flooding to both SMEs and the wider community. This tool demonstrates the need for SMEs to invest in installing flood resilience measures on their property and allows insurers to understand both the effectiveness of these measures and the residual flood risk. It is hoped the study will lead to insurance companies and SMEs working more closely with one another in flood risk management. (Read more here).

International Floods

There were 28 international floods reported across 24 countries in June 2021. At least 75 people died and more than 215,000 were displaced.

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Internationally significant floods included:

Somalia

Heavy rainfall has caused severe flooding in 14 districts of Somalia since late April, with at least nine fatalities recorded and 101,300 displaced as of early June. In particular, flooding in the Jowhar district caused by the Shabelle River breaking its banks has resulted in the displacement of 66,000 people and the destruction of at least 40,000 hectares of farmland. (Read here).

Sri Lanka

Ten districts in Sri Lanka were impacted by severe weather in early June, including floods, landslides and strong winds. Seventeen fatalities were recorded across seven districts, 25,000 people were displaced and more than 60 flood victims were rescued by the navy. The Kuda Ganga River reached major flood stage in Kalutara district. (Read here).

India

The Southwest Monsoon brought more than 200 mm of rain in less than 12 hours in Mumbai, India on 9 June. Eleven people died and a further 17 were injured in a building collapse believed to have been caused by the heavy rainfall. Further heavy rainfall in the north and east of India caused widespread flooding, with several further fatalities recorded due to flash flooding and drowning. (Read here and here).

Bhutan and Nepal

On 16 June, monsoonal rainfall caused flash flooding of a remote mountain camp in Laya, Bhutan, killing 10 people and injuring five more. The heavy rainfall has also resulted in flooding, severe flash flooding and several landslides in neighbouring Nepal, where there were three recorded fatalities and seven missing. (Read here and here).

United States

Tropical Storm Claudette brought heavy rainfall of over 254 mm in a 24 hour period, triggering flooding along the Gulf Coast, including Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. The storm has been linked to 14 fatalities, including 10 people who died in Alabama in an accident caused by a hydroplaning car. Nine of those killed in the accident were children. (Read here and here).

Guyana

Heavy rainfall has triggered flooding in all regions of Guyana since mid-May, with 28,000 households affected. Floodwaters have entered homes and inundated farmland, damaging crops and causing distress to livestock. The Guyanese government declared a disaster in mid-June. (Read here).

Diary

46th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop
Where: Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder
When: 11 to 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

Resources

Socioeconomic Impacts of Flooding Report

A report examining current flood risk and flood risk trends at a global scale has been published by MarshMcLennan. This first report in a four-part series considers the economic, societal and environmental consequences of flooding and discusses the roles of governments and the insurance industries in protecting communities and building flood resilience. (Read here)

Flood Simulation Video Games

A team from the University of Hull has developed a series of game-style virtual reality and 360 video activities to disseminate research and engage the community in environmental issues. The activity 360 Flood Stories uses animations and videos to share the real stories of people affected by flooding. Game-like activity Flash Flood! demonstrates the experience of being in a river valley during a flood using VR. (Read here)

Public Flood Awareness and Education (PAPE) E-Library Resource

The PAPE e-Library is an online repository containing materials for communicating risk on a range of hazards. This resource is designed to supply national societies with material to distribute on flood and other hazard risks during times of natural disaster, providing resources and knowledge to the community when it is needed most to mitigate the impact of hazards. (Read here)

Pacific Prepared Disaster Preparation Radio Show

ABC Radio Australia is delivering radio and on-demand programming in the form of the show Pacific Prepared. This show aims to disseminate information to international audiences on how to prepare for disasters, pandemics and extreme weather events. (Read here)

Adapting for Community-Centred Resilience During COVID-19

The Red Cross has released a case study from the Philippines examining how strategies to build community flood resilience have been adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategies concentrated on implementing interventions that had benefits for both building flood resilience and pandemic preparedness. (Read here)

Global Report on Internal Displacement in a Changing Climate

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre has released its annual Global Report, which discusses the relationship between climate change, disasters and displacement. This report provides data and analysis on internal displacement at global, regional and national scales. Further, it discusses promising practices in addressing displacement due to disaster and how to protect vulnerable internally displaced people from the impacts of climate change. (Read more)

CONVERGE Extreme Events Research Check Sheets Series

CONVERGE offers resources to assist researchers of extreme events in designing, preparing and conducting field research and studies. Available resources include ethics considerations, geographic considerations, cultural competence and power differential considerations, check lists for conducting research, data management practices and social science methodologies. (Read more)