The declaration of a third la Nina has hit flood prone communities hard, particularly Lismore. Thousands of people remain homeless and living in temporary accommodation, others are living in flood damaged homes desperately waiting for building repairs. People are overwhelmed. The possibility of facing a flooding event for the fourth time in five years is too much.
Australian Red Cross continues to work in more than 100 communities in NSW impacted from the compounding effects of floods, fires and the global pandemic. There can be no doubt that more challenges will emerge.
Disasters cause major disruption to peoples’ lives. The aftermath of a disaster can severely impact peoples’ mental health, finances, employment, education and goals. Taking action prior to disasters can reduce their impact.
There are practical steps that people can take now to plan and prepare for disasters. Red Cross has prepared simple and practical resources available at redress.org.au/prepare, including steps to create your own emergency plan, a Red Cross Get Prepared App, guidance to prepare a survival kit, emergency contacts list, a keepsake list, and information about managing stress in a disaster.
Disaster season is already upon us, and this week marks Red Cross’ annual Ready Week (September 19-26, 2022) campaign to encourage people to prepare ahead, because preparedness has been found to improve how people cope in a disaster and how they recover from them.
Our experienced Emergency Services personnel see first-hand the value of communities and individuals who have taken time to plan and prepare for potential disasters. A Curtin University report analysed the effectiveness of our preparedness programs among people who lived through the devastating 2021 Wooroloo Bushfire in the Perth Hills. The blaze destroyed 86 homes and damaged a further 100 houses, burnt 10,000 hectares and caused losses to power, water, communications and infrastructure.
As an area identified of high risk of multiple disasters, Red Cross had worked in Perth Hills since 2015 delivering whole of community emergency preparedness programs. The report found clear evidence of the value of preparedness training, and that this sustains better psychosocial outcomes following a disaster. Despite being exposed to repeated disasters, having a disaster plan in place improved peoples’ confidence in their capacity to respond and recover.
Having a plan in place won’t prevent a disaster, but it can reduce the stress and improve your ability to cope if faced with a flood, fire or storm.
Director New South Wales
Australian Red Cross