10/05/2024 02:21 PM

The NSW Government is strengthening flood preparedness and response for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, with a new flood campaign aimed at residents after research revealed 70 per cent of those who received evacuation orders chose not to leave.

The research, conducted after major flooding in 2021 and 2022, found that people did not understand the risks or how they should prepare for flooding.

The Future Flood campaign, a joint venture between the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and NSW Reconstruction Authority, encourages communities throughout the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley to better prepare for future floods.

With heavy rain forecast for the weekend, the campaign is a timely reminder to consider flood risk and follow the instructions of emergency services. Residents of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley are targeted in the campaign showing simulations of how homes might be impacted using data based on historic floods, with the aim of encouraging people to follow evacuation orders and understand their risks.

The Valley, often compared to a bathtub – one with five ‘taps’ flowing in and only one drain – has flooded more than six times in recent years. While these events are devastating for many residents and businesses, the campaign highlights far worse floods are possible in the future.

The campaign follows the story of real Valley residents who chose not to evacuate in recent floods, with the aim of encouraging them and their local communities to do so in the future. Each resident was visited by NSW SES volunteers and shown a simulation that demonstrated how floods could impact their home.

When he sees what a future flood could do to his home, Valley resident Ron remarks, “Until I see that you just can’t imagine it. Take more seriously the advice you get from SES and then I’d think twice when someone comes and knocks on my door and asks, ‘are you staying or are you going?’”

Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib, said the Future Flood campaign highlights the importance of being prepared and acting early.

“We want to ensure that residents are well prepared for the risk of future flood and this awareness campaign is one way we can ensure they have the information they need to protect lives when the worst occurs,” Minister Dib said.

“Receiving an evacuation order can be scary, but it’s important to follow the advice of the SES and this campaign demonstrates why. If you ignore an evacuation order, or wait too long to leave, routes may be cut off or it may become too dangerous to get out. Not evacuating also puts emergency service volunteers at risk if they need to rescue people who choose to ignore warnings.

“To support communities across the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley we are also working together with local Councils on the state’s first Disaster Adaptation Plan and future options to reduce the risk of floods in the area.”

NSW SES Acting Commissioner Damien Johnston said flooding throughout the Hawkesbury-Nepean has the potential to be far worse than what has been experienced in recent years.

“Know the local risk, get prepared and follow all advice from NSW SES,” Acting Commissioner Johnston said.

“During a major flood event we may be evacuating thousands of people from their homes. If you ignore the advice of emergency services or take too long to evacuate, you could be putting yourselves and others in a dangerous situation.”

“This campaign highlights the importance of listening to emergency services and evacuating when asked. We’ve seen what happens when people don’t listen to our emergency warnings. By listening to our evacuation advice, you will protect yourself, your family and our volunteers.”

NSW Reconstruction Authority CEO Mal Lanyon said the campaign aims to help the community to make well informed and safer decisions.

“We know only a small number of residents evacuated during the 2022 floods and we need that to change,” Mr Lanyon said.

“Preparing communities ahead of disasters is exactly why the NSW Reconstruction Authority was established – being aware and ready for natural hazards empowers people to think about what they’ll do ahead of time, not during the emergency.

“For this campaign our challenge is simple – are you ready for a future flood?”

To support communities, the Reconstruction Authority is also developing one of the state’s first regional Disaster Adaptation Plans (DAP) to reduce the risk and impact of floods in the Valley. The DAP will consider options including mitigation infrastructure, improvements to evacuation routes and ways to better prepare the community who live on the floodplain.

Visit www.ses.nsw.gov.au/futureflood to see the campaign and find out how to get ready for a future flood.

Media enquiries: Emilie Wells via 0472610654 or media@ses.nsw.gov.au.

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