An aerial photo of a damn and spillway

Recovering from floods – What now?

As flood waters start to recede and the massive task of cleaning up begins, it is a difficult but opportune time to consider the question, what now? What now, means different things to different people. There is the immediate what now actions, how do I restore safety, cleanliness, food and shelter. These are self-explanatory and of primary importance in the days and weeks following the event. The what now, that follows is what we want to discuss in this article.

Out of every situation comes opportunities and threats, positives and negatives. Once we again have a safe place to sleep, food to eat and premises to conduct business, we must pause to reflect and ask critical questions.

Will this happen again?

This is a great question and one that often raises fear and anxiety. To properly address this, it is critical to get the right information. Great information can be found from private sources such as FloodMapp and from public sources such as local Councils and State Governments. Key information to help you make decisions includes flood levels and annual exceedance probability (AEP) and annual recurrence interval (ARI).

AEP is usually expressed as a percentage and is the likelihood of a flood happening in any given year, 1% is considered a medium risk, whilst 5% is considered a high risk. Flood risk can also be expressed as the average recurrence interval (ARI) which is an estimate of how often a flood event may happen, a medium risk likelihood is 1:100 years and a high risk is 1:20 years. Coupling AEP and ARI with flood levels gives you useful decision-making tools. To understand if a flood level that will impact your assets has a high or low likelihood will inform you as to the risk to your investment. An example of this information from Brisbane City Council is provided below (high risk dark blue, medium risk light blue).

Source: Brisbane City Council

Am I prepared for this to happen again?

This question ponders what we have learnt from this and other flood events and how we apply these learnings. What happened this time? How did I learn this was happening? Did I get enough notice? How did my building/asset perform under flooding? How can I improve my building/asset to perform better next time?

Source: Simplx Group
Source: Simplx Group

The above two decision tree examples illustrate how asking the right questions can lead to valuable outcomes and performance improvement. This will lead to being more prepared for the next time this happens.

What is the cost of recovery, and can I afford to do this again?

This question is one that needs to be contemplated and resolved now, before significant investment is made into recovery efforts. Developing a detailed scope of works for the recovery activities and asset improvement activities will enable you to properly cost recovering from this flood and to anticipate the cost of next time less the benefits from flood mitigation changes made as part of the recovery.

Having developed this scope and cost estimate you can now answer, can I afford to do this again? If the answer to that is no, then you need to consider alternate solutions. Do I stay and make significant changes, or do I sell and move elsewhere?

What is the best decision for me?

This is where all the questioning comes together to give some direction about what to do next.

Source: Simplx Group

In helping our clients to find the answers to the questions above we have found this helps guide you to the best decision for you, your family and your business.

If you have any questions regarding this article or how we may be able to assist you, please contact us at

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