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Planning safe places to build
Local council zoning rules tell us where it is safe to build, so people moving into the area can be confident they won’t be affected by coastal erosion or storm surges, now or into the future.
During the lifespan of your home, the climate is projected to change. Before building or buying a home you may want to consider the impacts of severe storms and other climate-change related activity in your area. For example, what impact might warmer weather have? Is rainfall likely to change? What is the likelihood of flooding and erosion? How sustainable is the water supply? Are there risks related to climate change that will affect your insurance policy?
The severe NSW and Queensland floods in 2022 showed us that planning where to build safely can help to mitigate the impact of floods and storms. Mt Resilience can also show us how to put these lessons into practice.
Investing in more sustainable construction that minimises damage to buildings can reduce the impact of severe storms on your home. Since Cyclone Tracy demolished more than 70 percent of Darwin's homes in 1974, the Australian Building Codes Board made changes to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to adhere to standards which enable them to withstand natural disasters.
At Mt Resilience, learn how all new buildings meet building codes and standards, not just for now but into the future as severe storms are predicted to move into new regions due to climate change. When building a new house it is also important to think about the position of the house on the block. For example, a building on the low part of a block has different requirements to a building on a higher point. Although this approach might be more expensive initially, your home will have a higher chance of withstanding adverse weather, ensuring the safety of you and your property.
Other measures can include retrofitting your home with with storms in mind, for example by:
- keeping your downpipes, gutters and drains clear
- removing any tree branches that hang over your house, and
- securing your roof and any loose items, like furniture, around your home.
Check out the “Get Ready” government program online for more information on how to protect your house from fires, storms and floods.
The "One House to Save Many" documentary, by James Cook University and Suncorp Insurance, explores house design for resilience
Disaster-proof your insurance
At Mt Resilience, two of the residents Ying & Kate took advantage of insurance incentives to build resilient features into their house. This means that their home is better able to cope with the impacts of severe weather like rains and floods.
Keeping your insurance policy up to date is important, so that you know what you will and won't be covered for in the event of a disaster. Many insurers include flood cover as a compulsory part of taking out a household policy. Check your policy wording and talk to your insurer to avoid unforeseen expenses and heartache.
Don't forget coastcare
Everything is connected, so looking after the parklands and dunes means that the local environment and ecosystem can stay healthier, and provide an even stronger buffer against storms. With over 80% of Australians living near the ocean, coastcare is especially important for a sustainable future. By playing Mt Resilience, we can learn about coastcare measures, such as dune protection.
Sand dunes protect beaches from erosion and provide a buffer zone between marine and land environments. They absorb and decrease wave energy, reduce storm damage to our coastline, and stop the inland flow of seawater.
Using nature-based solutions is a great way to help our coastlines recover, including for example:
- Dune protection via planting indigenous plants whose roots can secure sand and soil from erosion.
- Sand replenishment to halt the erosion of vulnerable coastlines, as well as limiting building and development within active beach zones.
- Mangrove replanting; restoring kelp forests and seagrass meadows. Operation Crayweed and Operation Posidonia are two examples of successful seagrass meadow replanting initiatives.
- Reducing storm water and sewage run off.
- Ensure mooring chains are kept off the sea floor, protecting seagrass and preventing damage to the ecosystem.
Coast Care case study
On a stretch of Brisbane’s coastline, residents decided to transform an illegal dump into a healthy ecosystem that is helping to protect them and local species. The Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee partnered with government departments and landholders to plant over 60,000 trees and 4000 mangroves and returning tidal flow. The alliance cleared rubbish and pulled out 43 abandoned cars. All of this has enabled the saltmarsh to regenerate to a functioning wildlife habitat and water filtration system. The area now provides a buffer, filtering out pollution before it reaches the sea, and absorbing tidal surges, providing a safer environment for all in the Bulimba Creek community.
You can read more about this initiative on the ABC website.