Disaster resilience: preparedness and recovery

Background to Build it Back Green Queensland

Partners on target for Q2
Download the Q2 Partners Media Release
Open Letter from Green Cross to Premier Anna Bligh, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke
Discussing the important conclusions reached at the SEQ Cyclone Hypothetical Session at the National Business Leaders Forum for Sustainable Development

Build it Back Green is linked in the Anna Bligh's Q2 strategy


We are delighted that in 2009 Premier Anna Bligh selected Green Cross Australia to be a Foundation Q2 Partner, and that the Queensland State Government considers our Build it back green initiative to be a smart way to help Queenslanders reduce their carbon footprint by 30% by 2020, a Q2 goal.


Green Cross has influenced Queensland Climate Change Strategy to incorporate green rebuilding in advance of major weather events.


Bovis Lend Lease supports Green Cross Australia


In 2010 Green Cross worked on the ground in Queensland with our partners to ensure there is building commitment to sustainable disaster rebuilding in advance of the severe weather we are now experiencing.


Bovis Lend Lease hosted a Build it Back Green luncheon in Brisbane focusing the attention of community, business and government leaders on severe weather risks.


"Bovis Lend Lease is proud to be supporting Green Cross Australia. Through our extensive work in the area of disaster recovery and building communities, we understand the importance of stakeholder engagement and collaboration. This is why the Build it Back Green luncheon is an important opportunity for stakeholders from industry, government and the community to come together and work towards ensuring there is a resilient and sustainable response to manage the potential impacts of Queensland disasters." Peter Ward, Bovis Lend Lease QLD General Manager.


Participants joining Green Cross and Lend Lease include: Ergon Energy, Energex, Insurance Australia Group, Swiss Re, Australian Conservation Foundation, Building Codes Queensland, Property Council of Australia, Emergency Management Queensland, Minter Ellison, CSIRO, Volunteering Queensland and the Queensland Government's Office of Clean Energy and Office of Climate Change.


We are delighted that through support for our Storm Season Community Forums in November 2010, Suncorp Insurance is now firmly engaged with our efforts.


The April 2010 Bovis Lend Lease luncheon kick-started a process for planning a sustainable rebuild out of Queensland's next major weather event - now upon us with record 2011 floods -  learning from the models coming out of Greensburg, Kansas and New Orleans, as well as the sustainable recovery model underway in Black Saturday affected Victorian communities.


SEQ Cyclone Hypothetical


As flood waters recede in Brisbane, we remain concerned about cyclone risk during 2011. In May 2010, together with the Property Council of Australia Green Cross facilitated a significant "Hypothetical" in Parliament House Canberra in front of a large business audience to raise awareness about this risk.


The background setting for the Hypothetical is: major weather events occur in South East Queensland in 30-year cycles. The last major event happened in 1967. As this video interview with Griffith University's Rodger Tomlinson indicate, there is a risk that a cyclone tracking into the shallow water environment of Moreton Bay could build into a storm surge four metres high which then comes through the Broadwater putting thousands of vulnerable residents at risk.


The "SEQ Cyclone Hypothetical" was a key session of the 2010 National Business Leaders' Forum on Sustainable Development  on May 29 2010. The event was moderated by Radio National's Fran Kelly and occured without media coverage to encourage an open exchange.


The Hypothetical took place in the presence of an audience of 200 business sustainability leaders from across manufacturing, service and resource sectors. We were delighted that Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and Shadow Minister for Sustainable Cities Bruce Billson were able to participate in our vibrant discussion which involved CEO and Director level participants from Lend Lease, CSIRO, the Property Council of Australia and others including Green Cross.


Read the Open Letter from Green Cross to Premier Anna Bligh, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke that discusses important conclusions reached at the Hypothetical.


Circles of learning: a community based government disaster response strategy


Usually major cyclones track the Queensland coast then veer offshore, but as we saw with Cyclone Larry in 2006, they can hit land. In the case of Larry, the damage due to severe winds was widespread.


Jim Varghese, now Executive Director of Springfield Land Corporation, has extensive public sector leadership experience in Queensland, having served as Director General of four State Government Departments.


After Cyclone Larry he was deeply involved in applying a response approach which was community grounded and enabling as opposed to "top down". To learn more about the "Circles of Learning" approach that greatly enhanced Cyclone Larry recovery, watch this video interview with Jim Varghese.


More about Queensland exposure to cyclones, flooding and storm surge


Between December 2010 and February 2011, many businesses have been devastated and over 30,000 Queenslanders have been impacted by record flood and cyclone activity that has covered 75% of the State. Exceptional rainfall was predicted for this year, given the powerful La Nina conditions that we are experiencing (link to preparing for La Nina page).


During the summer of 2009 Queenslanders experienced floods and storms with great intensity, but fortunately did not have to suffer through a Category 5 Cyclone since Cyclone Hamish veered off the coast just in time.


Over the past 50 years Australia's top end has experienced much tropical cyclone activity. A 2007 paper by the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Bolder Colorado stated that "the last decade has experienced a 300-400% increase in category 5 hurricanes" in the North Atlantic. The storm intensity increases predicted by climate scientists may be materialising.




Usually major cyclones track the Queensland coast then veer offshore, but as we saw with Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and Cyclone Larry in 2006, they can hit land. The full impact of Cyclone Yasi is still unclear. In the case of Larry, the damage due to severe winds was widespread.




Mareeba / Eacham / Millaa Millaa

93 damaged properties


80% of buildings damaged

Flying Fish Point

15% of homes damaged


50% of homes damaged, 35% of private industry damaged

25% of Government buildings damaged (schools etc)

Etty Bay

40% of homes suffered roof damage

East Palmerston

70% of homes damaged


Worst affected location, 99% of homes lost roofs or suffered structural damage

Kurrimine Beach

30% of homes damaged, 15% of private industry damaged

El Arish

30% of homes damaged, 50% of private industry damaged

Bingil Bay

30% of homes damaged

Mission Beach

30% of homes damaged, 20% of private industry damaged

45% of caravan park damaged

South Mission Beach

20% of homes damaged, 20% of private industry damaged


Possible tornado damage


If Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 event with wind speeds up to 215km/hour had hit land, the exposure would have been extensive.


According to the CSIRO: "It is plausible that uncontrolled climate change could see global sea level rise of 1 metre or more by 2100 and more intense storms threatening coastal housing and infrastructure. Queensland's highly developed and populated coastal communities, such as the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, will be particularly affected by the predicted increase of sea level rise and floods. With almost 250,000 vulnerable coastal buildings, Queensland is at the highest risk from all Australian states from projected sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion."

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