Preparing for Severe Storms in NSW
Keys, C. (1994) in Community Preparedness for Disaster, Resource and Environmental Studies No. 10, Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, 27-34
Of all the major types of natural disaster which can occur in New South Wales (NSW), severe thunderstorms have probably the lowest profile in the public mind. At present, for obvious reasons, the community is well sensitised to bush fires and droughts, and the numerous earthquakes reported in the state during 1994 have served to remind us of Newcastle and the havoc which earthquakes can bring. Floods, for now, are of little account, but it is only a year since the serious flood event on the Murray and Edward rivers and their Victorian tributaries - and most people remember the graphic footage of the evacuation of Nyngan in 1990 when the waters of the Bogan River overwhelmed the levee banks and flooded virtually every house in the town.
By comparison with these hazards, storms probably do not rate highly in the community's perception. Yet thunderstorm activity is common in NSW and it is undeniable that storms are both costly and dangerous. Only floods cause greater monetary losses: according to the Australian Water Resources Council (1992) the average annual cost of floods in NSW is $150M and that of storms is $110M. Other types of hazard rate much lower in dollar terms - though of course events such as bush fires and droughts can be enormously financially damaging in some individual years as indeed they have been in 1994. Most hazard types tend to be "lumpy" rather than even in terms of their temporal occurrence.
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