Suncorp, a member of the Flood Community of Practice, recently hosted a forum which addressed the potential for small communities facing high risks of catastrophic flood damage to retreat to safer areas.
“How we manage flood risk in the face of climate change and population growth is increasingly important,” said Josh Cooney, Suncorp acting executive manager of government, industry, and public policy. “In Queensland, the township of Grantham was relocated from the floodplain to higher ground post the extreme 2011 floods. As an industry, it’s important to look at the full range of policy options available for vulnerable communities. Exploring the viability of managed relocations in towns that are more prevalent to risk is worthwhile thing to do. There is debate that says change in weather patterns and water tables is imminent. It’s certainly pertinent that Suncorp takes part in that debate.”
Nicholas Pinter of the University of California shared his knowledge about American communities that had successfully relocated. More than 30 relocations had been made in the US – though not all were successful.
“Each one of these relocations has a story of repeated challenge and devastation through flooding, prior to location,” Pinter said.
Pinter said some communities are torn in their decision to move to higher ground.
“There is not always a consensus,” Pinter said. “It takes strong leadership, and usually comes after a significant and traumatic flood event. Wholesale relocation can be a cost effective and humane solution for communities at risk of spiralling flood damage. But it needs to be part of a broad portfolio of options in the future.”