Lifestyle 'at risk'? The case of Ingham

Boon, Helen, Clark, Brenton, Cottrell, Alison, Stevenson, Bob, Millar, Joanne, and King, David (2012) Lifestyle 'at risk'? The case of Ingham. In: Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference (ANZDMC). pp. 59-74. From: Earth: fire and rain, 16-18 April 2012, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

This report presents findings about community responses to the 2009 floods experienced in Ingham, North Queensland. Two consecutive floods occurred in Ingham in 2009 which were both predominantly riverine and exacerbated by prolonged rainfall. Emergency Management Queensland estimated that 65% of the Hinchinbrook Shire or around 2,900 residences and businesses were affected by the February 2009 floodwaters with fifty homes experiencing inundation. The Queensland Premier estimated infrastructure damage at $120 million and the Insurance Council of Australia recorded a total cost of $19 million in insurance claims following the event.

The aim of the case study was to explore factors which sustained the community and helped community members adapt after the floods. Data was collected through a series of interviews conducted during 2010. A total of 77 participants representing a range of organisations, interest groups and demographics were interviewed in a series of focus group and individual interviews. Interviewees were asked about their experiences of the flood, including who and what helped them, who was most or least affected and why they chose to continue to live in the community. Bronfenbrenner's conceptual framework of influences was used as the theoretical lens with which to analyse participant responses.

Results suggest that residents and organisational units such as the hospital and local council quickly responded with strong, effective leadership to ensure appropriate help was available to community members. Strong cohesive social networks, prior experiences with floods, a sense of place and commitment to the community underpinned the response phase of the disaster and maintained the community efforts during the recovery period. Although the economic fabric of the community was severely impacted by the floods and subsequent mismanagement of some relief efforts, locals were adamant that the desirable lifestyle offered by the community was a strong motivating force to sustain their recovery and support their adaptation.

Implications of the findings for disaster management and recovery highlight the need to ensure that local organisations and the council have clear and up to date emergency plans in place, including a range of local individuals able to lead the response and recovery phase in consultation with state emergency services and federal government organisations. Community networks need to be developed and existing ones need to be maintained and strengthened since they play a key role in community cohesion, which in turn is critical for the effective communication and response to all phases of a disaster, including preparedness and recovery. Effective community disaster response takes place when all agencies, government and private, all individuals and households are engaged in awareness education and preparedness, and respond collaboratively.

Item ID: 28160
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9808147-4-3
Keywords: disaster; community; flood; adaptation; risk perceptions
Funders: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF)
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2013 02:40
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 30%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology @ 70%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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