LEADERSHIP – School Emergency Flood Planning

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School Emergency Flood Planning for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley


The project overview below describes a process of engaging and supporting schools at risk of flooding to further develop their emergency management plans. These plans need to reflect contemporary flood information and emergency management planning (preparedness, response and recovery) procedures. While focused on flooding, this project’s approach and learnings (plus the resource links on this page) offer insights for school communities to take a comprehensive approach to school safety and risk reduction for any hazard.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley is prone to rapid and deep flooding. There is a long history of dangerous and damaging floods within the valley. The largest flood on record was in 1867, and reached 19 metres above normal river height at Windsor. If a similar flood happened in the valley now, more than 90,000 people would need to be evacuated and over 12,000 homes would be impacted by floodwater.

Approximately 40 schools in the valley are at risk of major flooding. Schools at risk of flooding are required to have a School Emergency Management Plan that has arrangements for flooding. This includes actions to take before, during and after a flood, allocation of responsibilities and planning for different scenarios.

Consultation with education sector emergency planning and response staff identified opportunities to support schools in the valley to further develop their flood emergency procedures to reflect their flooding risk. In response, Infrastructure NSW and NSW SES ran a series of briefings and workshops for schools in mid-2019, supported by flood experts and emergency management leaders.

Flood Risk Briefings

These briefings provided a comprehensive overview of:

  • Contemporary, localised flood risk information (and the requirements to consider the impacts of flooding in school emergency planning.
  • Flood emergency management procedures, including the roles and responsibilities of emergency services, schools and other agencies prior to and during a flood.

Emergency Plan ‘Health-Check’ Workshops

A series of hands-on workshops focused on key aspects of best-practice emergency planning for flood, including:

  • triggers and responses
  • roles and responsibilities
  • contingencies for different scenarios
  • communications before and during a flood.

Workshops included a scenario-based exercise, allowing schools to practice their plans against realistic flood scenarios in a friendly, collaborative environment.

This project was an initiative of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy and was delivered by Infrastructure NSW in partnership with the NSW State Emergency Service, the NSW Department of Education, Catholic Schools NSW and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, the Association of Independent Schools of NSW and schools at risk of flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

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