Flood Mitigation and Resilience for QLD Strata Properties

Why is flood mitigation so important for strata communities in Queensland?

Flood mitigation is extremely important for apartment communities in Queensland, and as insurance costs increase along with the frequency of severe weather events, ensuring your strata community had adequate mitigation & resilience measures in place must be a top priority for many body corporates.

Queensland is famously prone to heavy rainfall and floods, especially during the wet season (November to April), which can cause significant damage to buildings, infrastructure, and personal property. For apartment communities, this can result in costly repairs and disruptions to residents’ lives.

Additionally, many apartment buildings in Queensland are located in low-lying areas or near waterways, which puts them at greater risk of flooding. This means that apartment communities must be well-prepared for potential flooding events in order to protect their residents and minimize damage.

In flood events, apartment buildings can experience flooding in basement areas which can cause residents in these complexes to be isolated or experience damage to property and building service outages, often for extended periods of time.

Bodies corporate have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their residents, especially in emergency situations like floods. By implementing flood mitigation measures, apartment communities can help to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life, as well as minimize damage to property.

Weather (and the risk) is only getting worse

Queensland has experienced several major flooding events since 2010.

There is evidence that severe weather events, including floods, in Queensland have increased in frequency over the years due to climate change.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Queensland has experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events in recent years, particularly during the wet season (November to April).

The BOM predicts that climate change will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in Queensland, including floods, heatwaves, and tropical cyclones.

In addition to floods, other severe weather events have also increased in frequency in Queensland in recent years. For example, bushfires have become more frequent and intense due to drier conditions, and heatwaves have become more frequent and prolonged due to higher temperatures.

Overall, the evidence suggests that severe weather events, including floods, in Queensland have increased in frequency and intensity in recent years.

Flood Mitigation and Resilience – Common Strategies

Here are some more details on common flood mitigation measures that apartment communities in Queensland can implement:

  1. Ensure adequate drainage and stormwater management systems are in place: Apartment communities should have proper drainage and stormwater management systems in place to prevent water from pooling on the property during heavy rainfall. This can include installing or maintaining gutters, downpipes, and storm drains to ensure water is directed away from buildings and common areas.
  2. Regular maintenance of drainage systems: Regular maintenance of drainage systems is essential to ensure that they are functioning properly. This includes clearing out any debris or blockages in gutters, downpipes, and storm drains to prevent water from backing up and causing flooding.
  3. Install flood barriers or sandbags: Installing flood barriers or sandbags can help prevent water from entering buildings during a flood. Apartment communities can use portable flood barriers or sandbags to create a barrier around the perimeter of the property or in front of individual buildings.
  4. Develop evacuation plans and emergency procedures: Apartment communities should have a well-planned evacuation procedure in place in case of flooding. This includes designating emergency assembly areas and routes to safety, and ensuring that all residents are aware of the plan.
  5. Educate residents on flood safety and preparedness measures: It’s important for apartment communities to educate residents on flood safety and preparedness measures, including how to identify flood risk areas, how to prepare for floods, and what to do in the event of a flood. This can include providing information on the emergency procedures and flood risk assessments to all residents.
  6. Elevate electrical systems and critical equipment: Apartment communities can also consider elevating electrical systems and critical equipment above the flood level to prevent damage or disruption during a flood. This can include elevating electrical boxes, generators, and other important equipment to higher levels within the building.

 

Implementing these flood mitigation measures can help protect apartment communities and their residents from the potential damage and risks associated with flooding events.

Flood mitigation – worth it in the long term?

Flood mitigation measures can be expensive to implement in the short term, but they are definitely worth it in the long term. The cost of repairing or replacing property and infrastructure damaged by floods can be much higher than the cost of implementing flood mitigation measures upfront.

In addition, floods can cause significant disruptions to the lives of residents in apartment communities, including displacement from their homes, loss of personal property, and potential injury or loss of life. By implementing flood mitigation measures, apartment communities can help protect their residents from these potential risks.

Furthermore, flood mitigation measures can help to reduce insurance premiums and potential liability issues, as they demonstrate that the apartment community has taken steps to minimize the risk of flood damage.

Finally, with the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including floods, due to climate change, flood mitigation measures are becoming even more important. Investing in flood mitigation measures now can help ensure that apartment communities in Queensland are prepared for future flood events and can continue to provide a safe and secure living environment for their residents.

Coastal Properties

Do coastal properties have more to do when it comes to flood resilience measures?

Yes, seaside properties typically have more to do when it comes to flood resilience measures. This is because they are often at a higher risk of flooding due to their proximity to the ocean, which can result in storm surges and tidal flooding.

Here are some flood resilience measures that seaside properties can consider:

  1. Elevation: Elevating the property or building above the flood level can help prevent water from entering the property during a flood. This can include raising the foundation, adding stilts, or building a raised platform.
  2. Flood barriers: Installing flood barriers around the property can help prevent water from entering the property during a flood. This can include portable flood barriers, sandbags, or permanent flood walls.
  3. Drainage: Ensuring adequate drainage and stormwater management systems are in place can help prevent water from pooling on the property during heavy rainfall. This can include installing or maintaining gutters, downpipes, and storm drains to ensure water is directed away from buildings and common areas.
  4. Building materials: Choosing flood-resistant building materials, such as concrete or brick, can help reduce the risk of flood damage.
  5. Emergency plans: Developing evacuation plans and emergency procedures can help ensure the safety of residents in the event of a flood. This includes designating emergency assembly areas and routes to safety, and ensuring that all residents are aware of the plan.
  6. Insurance: Purchasing flood insurance can help cover the costs of damages in the event of a flood.

 

Overall, seaside properties face unique challenges when it comes to flood resilience measures, and it’s important for property owners to take steps to mitigate the risks associated with flooding. By implementing flood resilience measures, seaside properties can help protect their residents and property from potential damage and risks associated with flooding events.

Storm Damage Vs Flood Damage – Why The Difference Matters

Insurance providers see a distinct difference between storm and flood damage. Ever since the Queensland floods of 2011, the Insurance Code of Practice has been updated to include a standard definition for flooding.

According to the code, a flood is defined as “the covering of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of any lake, river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not altered or modified, or any reservoir, canal, or dam”.

e.g. If a river breaks it banks resulting in an overflow of water

Storm damage, on the other hand, refers to the influx of water by rainwater, hail, cyclones, tornadoes, and other similar elements.

Why is reviewing my policy important?

Depending on the insurance Policy that has been arranged, you may not be covered for both flood and storm damage and its imperative to understand what you are covered for in the event of a claim.

When it comes to damage caused by flood water, some insurers will exclude this cover entirely, others will offer it as an optional cover (at an additional cost), while others will automatically include it as a standard cover. Generally, properties located in flood prone zones will either need to pay higher premiums to insure for this cover, or it may be that Insurers will not offer cover at all due to the degree of risk.

Body Corporate Refusal

As an apartment owner, what options would I have if flood mitigation measures have been proven to be necessary for the property but the body corporate refuses to implement them due to concerns about cost or believing they are not needed?

If flood mitigation measures have been proven necessary for an apartment property, but the body corporate refuses to implement them due to concerns about cost or believing they are not needed, there are a few options that individual apartment owners can consider:

  1. Seek legal advice: Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for individual apartment owners to take legal action against the body corporate. This could involve seeking a court order requiring the body corporate to implement flood mitigation measures or seeking compensation for damages resulting from flooding.
  2. Advocate for change: If individual apartment owners believe that the body corporate is not taking appropriate action to address the risk of flooding, they can advocate for change within the body corporate. This could involve organizing meetings, communicating with other owners, and presenting evidence to demonstrate the need for flood mitigation measures.
  3. Consider selling the property: If individual apartment owners are unable to convince the body corporate to implement flood mitigation measures, they may need to consider selling their property and finding a new property in a less flood-prone area.
  4. Implement personal flood protection measures: While it may not be possible to implement comprehensive flood mitigation measures at the property level, individual apartment owners can take steps to protect their own property. This could include purchasing flood insurance for your contents items, installing flood barriers, or elevating furniture and other belongings above the flood level.

 

It’s important to note that each of these options comes with its own set of challenges and trade-offs, and the best solution will depend on the specific circumstances of the property and the surrounding area. In all cases, it’s important to consult with experts, including engineers and flood mitigation specialists, to determine the most appropriate course of action.

 

Brisbane City Council – Flood Resilient Suburbs – Apartments Program

Brisbane Sustainability Agency is running a Flood Resilient Suburbs – Apartments Program.

This free Program is an initiative of Brisbane City Council, delivered in partnership with Brisbane Sustainability Agency and is designed to help Brisbane residents prepare, respond, and recover from flood events. Participation in the Program is fully funded by Brisbane City Council.

The Program includes a free Building Resilience Assessment, conducted by RPEQ engineers, and a personalised Flood Resilience Recommendations Report. The assessment will evaluate the current flood resilience of an apartment building’s services, with a focus on the basement area, and recommend further resilience strategies that, if implemented, could increase the apartment building’s flood resilience. This may result in reduced recovery time, cost and stress for residents and building managers in a flood event.

Currently, properties will qualify for the program if they meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • is located within the Brisbane City Local Government Area
  • has a basement
  • has a 50% chance of overland flow and/or creek flooding each year, or a 1% chance of river flooding each year or was impacted by the February 2022 severe weather event.

 

For more information about the program, please visit Flood Resilient Suburbs – Apartments Program or take a look at Frequently Asked Questions.

A Flood Resilient team member will call you in the near future to discuss the Program further.

Drastic Measures – When Mitigation is Ineffective

What are the options for a body corporate when mitigation measure have proven ineffective?

If a body corporate knows that their property will be repeatedly flooded, and mitigation measures have proven ineffective, they may need to consider more drastic options to address the situation. Here are a few options that they could consider:

  1. Relocation: If the property is in an area that is at high risk of flooding and mitigation measures have proven ineffective, relocation may be the best option. This could involve selling the property and using the proceeds to purchase a new property in a less flood-prone area.
  2. Retreat: If relocation is not an option, retreat may be the next best option. This involves gradually withdrawing from the high-risk area by reducing the number of buildings or structures on the property, allowing the area to return to a more natural state that can absorb floodwaters.
  3. Retrofitting: Retrofitting the property with more advanced flood mitigation measures may be an option. This could include installing more effective flood barriers, elevating the buildings, or implementing more advanced drainage systems.
  4. Collaboration: Collaboration with local government, emergency services, and other stakeholders may be necessary to find a solution to the problem. The body corporate may be able to work with these stakeholders to implement more comprehensive flood mitigation measures or explore other options for addressing the situation.

 

It’s important to note that each of these options comes with its own set of challenges and trade-offs, and the best solution will depend on the specific circumstances of the property and the surrounding area. In some cases, a combination of these options may be necessary to adequately address the risk of flooding. It’s also important to consult with experts, including engineers and flood mitigation specialists, to determine the most appropriate course of action.

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