As well as bushfires, heavy rains can pose a risk in the summer, especially with the effect of La Niña. Read our guide to getting your church or charity storm and flood ready
During the warmer months in Australia we tend to concern ourselves with bushfires. And rightly so, since bushfire is a major risk across the country.
However, heavy storms and flooding can also increase during the summer, especially with weather patterns such as the current La Niña.
What is La Niña?
La Niña occurs when strong equatorial trade winds change surface currents in the Pacific Ocean and draw cold water up to the surface. This results in a cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. In turn it leads to more rainfall, higher overnight temperatures in Australia’s north, cooler daytime temperatures in the south, increased cyclones, and earlier monsoons.
The last La Niña occurred in 2010. It resulted in severe flooding in parts of Queensland and NSW. There were many businesses that were poorly prepared at the time and as a result suffered huge losses. Some were even closed up for months.
This emphasises the importance of preparing your organisation for heavy rains and flooding, and ensuring you have a continuity plan in place.
Flood and storm risks
Heavy rain events can lead to flash floods (from intense rain), riverine flooding (from burst river or creek banks), and in turn property damage or loss, injuries, and business interruption.
When a business or not-for-profit premises is damaged by flood, it can take considerable time and money to clean up the property and get the organisation up and running again.
A comprehensive flood plan can help to miminise the harm caused by these weather events. Read on for some tips.
Developing a flood and storm ready plan
If your property is prone to flooding you should have a flood plan in place. But even if it’s low risk for flood it could still suffer damage from storms and strong winds. So either way it’s important to set up a storm and flood plan.
The aims of your plan should be to keep people safe, minimise damage and financial loss, protect jobs, and get back to your activities as quickly as possible.
Some factors to consider:
- Keeping up with emergency information – e.g. on the weather bureau and emergency apps for your region.
- Property protection – such as securing items that could become a hazard during strong winds or rain, and/or sandbagging to help protect your property from flood waters (more information on this at the end of the article).
- Developing emergency response and business continuity plans – see below.
Emergency response and continuity planning
How you respond after an emergency can make all the difference to how your organisation recovers. Considerations include:
- Safe evacuation of the building.
- Contacting emergency services.
- Repair and/or replacement of damaged property.
- Backup processes – e.g. for documents and electronic data.
- Responding to disruption of services.
- Administering First Aid and emergency supplies.
- Ongoing planning for employees and jobs.
- Contacting suppliers.
- Securing alternate temporary premises if required.
Our previous article on disaster recovery plans for churches, charities, and workplaces provides more detail.
Where insurance comes in
Insurance cover should form part of your emergency risk management planning. Business interruption or ‘consequential loss’ insurance for example is designed to financially protect organisations during the recovery phase of an emergency or disaster. It includes cover for revenue, payroll, ongoing expenses, and rental of temporary premises.
Faith Insurance includes consequential loss cover in its Industrial Risk Policies for faith centres and charities. Get in touch with our office by email, or by calling 13 000 FAITH if you would like to find out more.
For further reading or guidance
Business continuity planning guide from Business Victoria;
Sandbagging guide from SES Victoria.
Tags: emergency, weather