Adaptation and resilience in two flood-prone Queensland communities

King, David and Apan, Armando ORCID: and Keogh, Diane and Thomas, Melanie (2013) Adaptation and resilience in two flood-prone Queensland communities. In: Natural disasters and adaptation to climate change. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. United States, pp. 95-106. ISBN 9781107010161


Floods are the world's second most costly natural hazard, averaging more than US$17 billion a year over the last decade, even though the death toll in most floods has not been as severe as their economic impact (CRED, 2009). Floods in Australia have cost, on average, AU$377 million per annum over recent decades (BITRE, 2008). In the summer and wet season of 2010 to 2011 in Queensland alone, floods were estimated to have resulted in AU$1.5 billion in insurance claims and an overall loss to the Australian economy reported to be at least AU$10 billion (ABC, 2011). During the 2011, floods thirty-five people died (Queensland Police, 2011) and 200,000 people were affected (BBC, 2010), including many thousands of people who may have evacuated in Queensland during the period of the floods and cyclones from late November to early February. Disastrous floods often prompt communities and governments to understand existing vulnerabilities and develop new policies and strategies to reduce vulnerabilities and prevent future disasters. The experience may offer insights to other communities as they experience future change.

We selected two Queensland communities that have experienced frequent flooding as case studies of adaptation and resilience (Apan et al., 2010). Both Charleville and Mackay have experienced regular riverine flooding in the past, although the floods considered here were unusual in that one was from a secondary tributary and one was flash flooding. Flash floods are common in Australia but present problems in terms of warnings because of the speed of their onset. The tragedy and loss of life from a flash flood in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley in south-east Queensland during 2011 demonstrated the risk of this hazard. The approach we undertook in the present case study was to reconstruct recent flood impacts in order to better understand how communities and businesses in these places have coped with disaster – their household and community resilience – as well as the measures that they had taken to mitigate against future floods. In addition, we consider their adaptive capacity in the face of longer-term change and flood impact. Although the case study research was carried out almost two years after the flood events, informants were able to reconstruct their experiences and reflect on their adaptation responses.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published Version restricted in accordance with publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Surveying and Land Information (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Surveying and Land Information (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2014 06:23
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 04:03
Uncontrolled Keywords: flood; adaptation; resilience; Queensland; communities; climate change
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040604 Natural Hazards
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures
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