What Are Natural Disasters?
Natural disasters are life-threatening and property-damaging weather events. They not only create hazardous situations for the inhabitants of a community, whether from powerful floodwaters or erosion-inducing landslides, but they also leave costly repairs in their wake.
In 2017, the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities forecasted that natural disasters would cost the country over $39 billion annually by 2050. In 2021, that number was changed to $73 billion by 2060.
The effects of natural disasters can be financially devastating to a country, and proper preventative measures are necessary to mitigate the level of destruction that occurs.
Types of Natural Disasters in Australia
Australia is surrounded by different bodies of water and includes a wide array of landscapes and inconsistently varying climates that affect the severity and type of natural disasters experienced. While heatwaves and bushfires are overall the most common form of natural disaster that occurs in Australia, the country is also prone to experiencing devastating floods.
Natural Disasters by State and Territory
- Queensland: Tropical cyclones and large amounts of river flooding have ravaged the eastern part of Australia. Queensland has faced over 80 natural disasters in the last decade, totaling more than $16 billion in damages.
- New South Wales: This southeastern country is no stranger to flooding. In 2021, a natural disaster was declared after New South Wales experienced flooding so severe it was described as only occurring once a century. Dams were compromised, adding to the dangerous amount of floodwater circulating in the area.
- Northern Territory: Flooding has recently affected people living in northern Australia. In February 2022, previously dry creeks and riverbeds swelled with constant rainfall, flooding roads to remote villages, causing a scarcity of food. Some areas are getting 400% more than the typical amount of rainfall; this increase in rainfall can be attributed to climate change.
- Western Australia: Tropical cyclones and flooding are semi-regular occurrences in Western Australia. This region of the country is most susceptible to taking the brunt of tropical storms, which happen between November and April, usually experiencing at least one severe cyclone a year.
- South Australia: Flooding and earthquakes have plagued South Australia, leaving immense destruction in their wake. While quakes aren’t extremely common in the country overall, Adelaide has the highest chance of risk out of all Australian capital cities for experiencing an earthquake due to its proximity to fault zones.
- Victoria: Tropical cyclones, bushfires, and flooding have threatened the supply of clean water in Victoria.
- Tasmania: Record rainfall in late 2021 caused large amounts of flooding, blocking off roadways and leaving schools forced to close on numerous occasions.
Types of Natural Disasters in New Zealand
Both the northern and southern islands of New Zealand are at risk for a variety of natural disasters, with flooding being the most often occurring and destructive natural hazard.
Natural Disasters by Region
- Northland: Tsunamis, landslides, and flooding have cost the Northland region millions. In July of 2020, one particularly severe storm and subsequent flooding induced an insurance payout of $37 million.
- Auckland: Flooding and earthquakes have induced coastal erosion in the northernmost region of New Zealand.
- Waikato: This large region on the northern island has dealt with river and coastal flooding, earthquakes, and landslides filled with debris.
- Bay of Plenty: Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and flooding happen in the Bay of Plenty. With eight major rivers emptying into the bay, flood control has been an issue in the past.
- Gisborne: This east coast region has experienced low-level earthquakes that damaged public property and temporarily stopped the electrical power supply.
- Hawke’s Bay: While there is a definite chance of tsunamis occurring in this region, the deadliest natural disaster in all of New Zealand history happened here: an earthquake. In February of 1931, over 250 people lost their lives after a quake with a magnitude of 7.8 ripped through churches, libraries, hotels, medical centers, and colleges.
- Taranaki: The location of Taranaki being on the Pacific-Australian plate boundary increases the risk of eroding-earthquakes, tsunamis, and flooding.
- Manawatū-Whanganui: Flooding, storms, tsunami, earthquakes… this southern region of the northern island experiences it all.
- Wellington: While earthquakes and tsunamis can happen in the southernmost part of the northern island, flooding has caused serious issues in the past. In late 2021, the region of Wellington experienced an entire month’s worth of rain in 14 hours, leaving roadways and cars submerged.
- Tasman: At the northernmost part of the southern island, flooding has been fierce. In 2018, the region saw an unprecedented storm, of which the cleanup was expected to take an entire year.
- Nelson: The occurrence of floods and earthquakes between the regions of Tasman and Nelson led to the formation of an Emergency Operations Centre.
- Marlborough: While there haven’t been many recent earthquakes, Marlborough does reside on fault lines, and the region has experienced severe damage in the past.
- West Coast: This coastal community is prone to flooding, storms, tsunamis, and eroding earthquakes.
- Canterbury: Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and landslides have all affected the infrastructure and communities of Canterbury. The most expensive natural disaster in New Zealand occurred in Canterbury; an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 caused a severely-damaging aftershock months later, destroying churches, homes, schools, and claiming the lives of at least 185 people while injuring thousands more. The combined cost of damages from these quakes was around $22 billion.
- Otago: Extreme rainfall caused bridge and road closures due to flooding in 2021.
- Southland: Rain-related flooding in 2020 saw the evacuation of over 2,000 people.
Causes and Effects of Natural Disasters in Australia & New Zealand
There are many natural and manmade causes for natural disasters. No matter if a community experiences a tsunami, earthquake, wildfire, or flood, the effects are enormously devastating to the environment, life, and infrastructure of a region, even more so for those in low-income or remote areas.
Potential Causes of Natural Disasters
- Deforestation: When a flood occurs, vegetation and the roots of trees work to absorb the water, mitigating the damage to surrounding farmland, homes, and municipalities. However, if a significant amount of trees are removed from an area, a flood can be much more difficult to control.
- Erosion: Flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides can all exacerbate naturally-occurring erosion. This can have serious implications for the critical infrastructure of a community, as well as decrease property value and useable land.
- Climate change: Our planet is consistently heating up, heavily in part to human industrial intervention. Australia is feeling the effects of the incremental uptick in temperature, experiencing more wildfires, heat waves, and ravenous rainfalls. The prevalence of these unstable and extreme weather patterns can leave communities destroyed.
- Shifts in the Earth’s crust: Seismic activity, the natural shifting of tectonic plates, can induce earthquakes, sinkholes, and tsunamis. New Zealand experiences around 15,000 quakes a year.
- Altered ocean currents: When ocean currents change, the water can become warmer, providing ideal conditions for a tropical storm to form.
Potential Effects of Natural Disasters
- Loss of life: In 2020, the Australian summer wildfire season saw at least 445 fatalities from smoke-related reasons alone. A 2015 report regarding the tsunami risk of New Zealand noted that in a worst-case scenario, 30,000 could lose their lives if proper protective measures were not taken.
- Erosion: Coastal erosion has been a huge issue in parts of Australia. Homes without seawall protection are falling into the sea. Extreme flooding, high winds, and landslides associated with many kinds of natural disasters can devastate land that many people rely on for agricultural purposes.
- Private property damage: Many homes, especially those in impoverished areas, are settled along riverbanks and coasts, which the residents utilize in their day-to-day lives. Flooding and landslides in these areas can and does upend entire communities. In 2020, there were almost 12,000 insurance claims in New South Wales as flooding ravaged Australian cities including Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Laurieton and Taree, and west Sydney
- Public property damage: The July 2020 Northland storm cost at least $18 million in damages to critical infrastructure, including highways, roads, and water treatment facilities.
- Economic loss: Natural disasters can be detrimental to areas of New Zealand and Australia that rely on tourism to thrive. As of 2021, the Australian government spends over $38 million related to natural disasters. An estimate of economic losses resulting from natural disasters in New Zealand is around $832 million.
How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster
You can better prepare your country and its communities by implementing the steps outlined in governmental disaster management.
Phases of Disaster Management
- Mitigation of effects: Ensure your community is equipped with effective forms of flood barriers, erosion control, and landslide diversion strategies. TrapBag® barriers are an incredibly durable form of protection that can be applied in a variety of ways to reinforce infrastructure, homes, shorelines, and mitigate the effects of flooding.
- Preparation: Alert and inform people residing in areas more prone to flooding that they may need to evacuate to higher elevations. Stress the importance of having a supply of non-perishable food and drinking water in the event they are unable to leave their homes.
- Response: After a natural disaster occurs, identify regions that most require assistance, whether through rescue efforts, medical attention, or food and water supply.
- Recovery: Rebuild the community’s infrastructure and create a plan to better prepare for future events.
Prevention of Natural Disasters: TrapBag Barriers
If you’re wondering what can be done to prevent natural disasters, you’re not alone. While the actual event cannot often be prevented, the severity of the effects of natural disasters can be with proper protection.
When it comes to providing protection for a variety of natural disasters, TrapBag barriers are the optimal choice. This engineered form of damage mitigation is effective when employed as many forms of solutions, including:
- Flood barriers: When extreme rainfall or a treacherous storm hits, TrapBag flood barriers can divert the damaging flow of water away from at-risk areas like farmland. TrapBags can also be arranged as a seawall alternative, providing necessary protection to coastal communities experiencing tsunamis or rising sea levels.
- Erosion control: Extreme winds, rising water levels, earthquakes, and landslides can destabilize land. TrapBag barriers offer incredible protection from erosion, ensuring property values do not drastically decline, and the ecosystem stays intact.
- Infrastructure support: TrapBags can be arranged to provide additional stability to bridges, dams, highways, and other forms of infrastructure during natural disasters, mitigating extensive damage, expensive repairs, and loss of employment.
- Diversion walls: During landslides, debris can tumble into buildings and homes, leaving huge amounts of damage in their wake. TrapBags can be filled with concrete to build incredibly sturdy protective walls that block and divert mudslide and landslide debris, saving thousands of people from losing their belongings and facing homelessness.
- Dams: Reliable dams are crucial to preventing natural disaster-induced flooding. TrapBags can be arranged to block and redirect water, saving communities costly repairs and saving the local economy from tanking.
- Levees: This form of TrapBag water barrier prevents floodwaters from infiltrating elevated surfaces, like roadways and agricultural plots.
- Stormwater containment: Natural disasters often result in contaminated runoff. If not properly handled, this debris-filled water can destroy land and pollute water sources. TrapBag stormwater detention basins help keep the inhabitants and environment safe and healthy.
- Spill control: Chemical and/or oil spills, like stormwater runoff, can be extremely detrimental to the environment, especially agricultural plots. Due to their incredible strength and durability, TrapBags are a great solution to retaining toxic chemicals.
Beneficial Properties of TrapBags
TrapBags are superior forms of protection and prevention during natural disasters.
- Versatile: TrapBags can be filled with a variety of substances including sand, washed gravel, and concrete. They can create many types of structures, as well as offer support during many forms of natural disasters.
- Durable and dependable: The exterior strength of TrapBags, along with the leakproof, accordion structure, makes them extremely reliable forms of protective and preventive barriers, ensuring expensive infrastructure and pillars of communities like large plots of farmland are still standing and safe after a natural disaster passes through.
- Easily installed: Unlike many other forms of protection, TrapBags do not require heavy machinery to be placed. Installation is made simple by the interconnected structure of the barriers; they can be laid and arranged on a variety of landscapes, whether it is flat or sloped.
- Quick to deploy: Natural disasters can occur suddenly. TrapBag barriers are rapidly deployable, offering a quick and strong form of protection that anyone can set up.
Use TrapBags for Protection from Natural Disasters
Damage prevention is key when it comes to keeping communities thriving, even in the wake of a natural disaster. TrapBag barriers provide incredibly durable, effective protection from a variety of natural disasters. Message us today to inquire about utilizing TrapBag in your state, or begin placing your order.