Molino Stewart team members Neil Dufty, Rhiannon Garrett, Filippo Dall’Osso and Kelsey Sanborn have written a report article published in the July 2022 edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management.
Levees are used in Australia and across the world as a structural means to reduce flood risks. However, people protected by levees can develop a false sense of security believing that the levee is fail-proof or might only fail in extreme flood events. This optimism can lower flood preparedness levels and lead to increased urban development in flood-prone areas. This can magnify flood risk behind the levee—a phenomenon known as the ‘levee paradox’ or ‘levee effect’.
The article analyses the results of a community survey conducted with residents and businesses located behind the levees in Launceston, Tasmania. The survey revealed a widespread low level of flood-risk awareness and elevated optimism about the protection afforded by the levee system. However, there were no significant and direct relationships between the possible levee paradox causal factors and the low levels of preparedness identified. This does not rule out the levee paradox, as more complex psychological interrelationships could be involved. Emergency management planning should consider the high proportion of people (over one-third) who stated they would require assistance during a flood in the Launceston levee-protected areas.
Image: City of Launceston Council