Thursday, 13 January 2011

Flooding and communication

The floods in Brisbane over the past couple of days have made me realise that it's pretty difficult to get real information about vulnerable areas and predicted levels of flooding. For instance, depending on what sources you listen to and what their mood is, you might hear about at-risk areas in terms of "regions", suburbs, catchments, rivers, altitude (ie "low-lying areas"), bridges or roads. If you want to know whether you're in danger, you need to know all of these things about your local area.

Second, up to date flood maps are very useful, as long as they are clear. The only map I could find of my area had thin blue lines for all creeks, rivers and overland flows, and thick, unlabelled grey lines for every road. That made it nearly impossible to tell what areas were at risk and which were flooded.

So what should have been done differently? The Bureau of Meteorology, city council and emergency services need to coordinate their information better and provide simple, consistent, easy-to-access lists of contact information and maps of flooding and at risk areas. Simply talking about "low-lying areas" of particular suburbs isn't good enough. Also, if you say on the radio that "information will be available on our website", you'd better put it prominently on the front page.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - On the plus side, if you wanted shocking video, the TV had that covered.
PPS - But never any location captions.

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