I met with residents of Mt Coolum who are being severely impacted by a minor weather event last week where 230 ml of rain has wreaked havoc in the community and local businesses and aged care facilities.
There’s a lot of issues contributing to this problem that was always inevitable, the risks were fully disclosed but ignored decade after decade. See council publication of July 1983 regarding further development of the floodplains – image 8.
This is short and cheesy first principles layman’s animation for those who are busy:
OR READ ON:-
- 13 families are dispossessed for 10 weeks or more at one unit complex and the insurer is not happy
- 2 homes are also evacuated and it is unknown how their insurer will reassess their premiums
- these people have to pay their mortgage and pay holiday accommodation rates for up to three months and hope the insurer will reimburse them – in reality, this could literally leave people literally homeless – literally…. how many of us can afford a three month holiday?
- to top it off – two evacuated units were looted. Police are investigating
- Estia Health aged care was evacuated with untold stress to residents and staff and productivity
- many others came way too close for comfort
- I advised the group to form an association and get coordinated with their testimony and strategy moving forward – after all, we’re in cyclone / wet season and this could happen again next week
- I advised the group to make direct contact with the state MP Fiona Simpson who has advised the group she will push for a ‘standing approval’ through the state department of Fisheries to restore the drain to perform its intended function
- the 30 m wide drain built in 1988 has been neglected, and because low lying coastal plains are tidal, mangroves have established in the drain – photo 7 is the current condition of the drain for flood conveyance – now only 3 m wide
- the Mt Coolum Golf Course, that lost $7-8000 per week and now floods after 70 ml of rain, have been lobbying for many years with little help – council have claimed this is not their jurisdiction and their hands are tied as, yes, all marine plants are protected under state legislation
- however, I pointed out to attendees last Friday including our current councillor and various heads of council departments and council officers that;
a) developers get permits to remove and offset mangroves and marine plants regularly including Twin Waters West down the road, and
b) council publication of April 2019 Constructed Waterbodies Residents Manual instructs residents to systematically remove mangroves and the like, as ‘weeds’, without a permit –
- so, it is possible – all we need is the political will all these years to make it happen
- it is understood budgets are at stake, but so are the budgets of resident rate payers who expect a duty of care afforded to them by their local government – this escalating problem has the capacity to ruin people’s lives
- further, long term residents of nearly 30 years never saw this until the adjacent floodplain was filled to make way for urban development- prior to this, resident testimony claims the area in question used to retain and attenuate waist deep excess flood volumes – this infilled area was protecting existing residents and their properties
- residents at the base of Mt Coolum who saw an approval for a development behind them are now experiencing waterfalls in their back yards and homes and metal storm water grates / lids flying 2 m in the air – they’re told to sue their neighbour, not the local planning authority who approved it
- it’s also of note that 1.3 cubic million metres of fill have gone into the airport expansion project on another adjacent floodplain
- it’s also of note that the airport drain reverse flows causing more strife with flood behaviour
- the water trapped in the underground garage was polluted with diesel and other contaminates – much confusion ensued, it was reported that $8,000 per truckload was required to take the water away for treatment purposes
- then it was reported that the contaminated water could be diluted by half, making it safe, and could be released into the waterways – which is what happened and this time no one stood in front of a camera drinking this water claiming it was safe.
Here we go again – “The solution to pollution is dilution”
So, when this happens again, which it will, we know how it will be managed, and insurers do too – it’s been a very expensive exercise for all involved and I fear what the insurer will do with respect to risk appetite when reassessing this unit complex and individual insurance policies.
Insurers are in the ‘business’ of selling financial products – they’re not a charity and they do not insure for the inevitable – especially scenarios such as this. And then we get to the banks – if these people want to sell, they will need a buyer, and most buyers need banks, and banks need insurers. This all adds up to mortgages as financial products are becoming risky business.
The Insurance Council of Australia has been imploring local governments to stop approving vulnerable developments.
We must stop any further filling of the floodplains. As per (no kidding) the Sunshine Coast planning scheme strategic framework and the recommendations made by the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry (billion dollar tax payer funded inquiry) ‘do not remove volume from the floodplains’ – and what have we done? Filled the floodplain year after year and in the face of community opposition in a lot of cases. And we now see the result.
All the modelling argy bargy can’t stop water from finding its own level – on the ground in real time.
This is not best practice planning for our vulnerable coastal communities and it flies in the face of experts everywhere.
Existing residents first have the right to respond to a new normal under best available science, but apparently, they’re on their own.
NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. THE ABOVE ADVICE AND INVOLVEMENT IS THE JOB OF A LOCAL COUNCILLOR TO ADVOCATE, LOBBY AND REPRESENT RESIDENTS THROUGH THE APPROPRIATE CHANNELS – AND NOT GIVE UP.
FOR THIS TO BE OCCURRING, AFTER A MINOR WEATHER EVENT, IS A TESTAMENT TO THE EVIDENT NEGLECT AND DUTY OF CARE AFFORDED AT LARGE BY DECISION MAKERS.
If you read this far – thank you, it’s a loaded subject!
Given that you have – this link is likely of interest to you – it certainly raises the eyebrows of residents who see it for the first time. Scroll down to the map titled ‘Flood Hazard Area/ Defined Flood Event – these are the maps you, banks and insurers use and they will look worse and worse until we address and consult on this issue.