Recent lessons learned and developments underway Pfister, N. and Rutledge, A. (2002) presented at the 42nd annual conference of the Floodplain Management Authorities of NSW, Kempsey, 2002
The New South Wales (NSW) State Emergency Service (SES) is the legislated combat agency for flooding in NSW. It is the SES's job to lead the community's response to the flood threat so as to minimise the risk to life and property. One of the main means available to assist the community during floods is the provision of information about what will happen as a flood rises and what people should do to manage it in their own interests. The SES, of course, is involved in many other vital activities during floods. These 'acute' activities include assistance with property protection measures (sandbagging and the lifting and relocation of property), the coordination of evacuations, the conduct of resupply operations for isolated communities and the rescue of people who are in danger. These activities, however, generally have a direct effect only on relatively small numbers of people. Conversely, the warnings and advice that the SES provides in its Flood Bulletins, which are broadcast over radio stations, have the potential to directly affect thousands of people by enabling those people to make decisions and take action to protect themselves and their property from floods. The importance of the flood warning task is also apparent when we consider the impact of warnings that are not done well - for example, because insufficient information is provided or because people don't understand the messages that are broadcast. This has happened on occasion in the past and it has been obvious at those times that an ill-informed public is in not in the best position to protect itself. In such cases no action is taken, or too little is done too late and loss and damage that could have otherwise been avoided occurs.
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