Build back better: Mayor calls for home design rethink in wake of deluge

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has played down the notion of the council buying homes in flood-prone areas, saying it would be enormously costly and many people would not want to sell anyway.

Mar 08, 2022, updated Mar 08, 2022
These Rocklea homes were raised after the 2011 flood. Damage was minimal. (Image: Emma Pollard, ABC)

These Rocklea homes were raised after the 2011 flood. Damage was minimal. (Image: Emma Pollard, ABC)

Instead Cr Schrinner is pushing for smarter thinking on building more flood resistant homes, with stronger materials or better design to ensure lessen the impact of inundation.

He said more than 20,000 homes have been affected, not to mention businesses.

He said a range of options would mitigate future floods such as building more flood-resilient homes, but simply buying and demolishing flood-prone homes is too expensive and not a “silver bullet”.

“There were 20,000 properties, residential properties that were flooded, if you actually start to calculate the value of those properties we’re talking about billions of dollars worth of property,” Mr Schrinner told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“So if I came to you and said: ‘Look sorry, you live in a flood area, out you go, we’re gonna bulldoze your home,’ I’m not sure how you’d feel about that.”

He said under the council’s previous flood buyback scheme the $58 million allocated was enough to buy only 112 homes, and many residents didn’t want to sell anyway.

The mayor said options for mitigation was building homes on higher foundations and using more flood resistant building materials.

He said it was also difficult to change planning laws to make a difference when there were already thousands of homes and businesses built in flood zones.

“These were often settled at the beginning of Brisbane’s sort of modern history, so potentially more than 100 years ago, and so in those areas there’s some entire suburbs virtually that do experience some flooding,” the mayor said.

“So you can’t you couldn’t just go in and clear an entire summer and just say: ‘Sorry, no one can live here any more’.

“These are people’s private properties, and so like I said, there’s going to be a combination of responses.”

Southeast Queensland’s flood death toll has risen to 13 after man’s body was found in the state’s south, with another man still missing, amid debate about mitigating future disasters.

Police found the body, believed to be a 31-year-old man who’s been missing from Warwick for nine days, in a car in floodwaters in the Condamine River on Monday afternoon.

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Another man is still missing and feared dead after falling from a boat on the Brisbane River near Breakfast Creek on February 26.

The weather has largely cleared up across much of the southeast on Tuesday after major floods, which have damaged more than 20,000 homes and business.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday announced Army Major-General Jake Ellwood would co-ordinate flood recovery, describing it as one of the largest-scale recovery operations the State had ever seen.

“This flood event stretches across 22 local government areas and eight cities,” the Premier said.

“Although recovery is well underway, there is considerable work ahead to recover and rebuild.

“Major-General Ellwood is the perfect choice to lead those efforts.”

The state government estimates private insurance claims on homes and businesses will top $936 million and the bill for fixing public infrastructure like roads, bridges, power lines and railways will top $500 million.

The floods are also expected to wipe 0.25 per cent, or $1 billion, off state’s economic growth in the current quarter.

Flood waste weighing more than 24 Airbus A380’s has already been collected in Brisbane, where properties have been damaged in 190 suburbs.

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