The Importance of Being Resilient to the Weather
On 28 March 2017 cyclone Debbie (category 4) arrived in Australia and caused significant damage to the country and its people. Tuesday (April 4th) the death toll rose to five people when the bodies of a woman and her two children were found under a sunken car by the police. The critical infrastructure in the area was also damaged significantly. The roads were flooded, water supply disturbed, power and phone networks damaged. The power grid experienced serious trouble, whereby around 50,000 homes ended up without any power.
Preparing for extreme weather events like cyclones is extremely important for minimising the damage and the loss. It is projected that the insurance bill of cyclone Debbie will be around 770 million dollars. Making infrastructure more resilient (by design) against extreme weather events, like cyclone Debbie, will help minimise the loss.
The biggest problem that cyclones bring about, are the large amounts of water. Water that the cities in Australia currently cannot absorb, which causes it to flow into the streets; damaging the critical infrastructure in the cities and around it. The force of water tears through roads, bridges, houses, power and transmission lines above and underground, disrupting transportation networks, energy networks, water networks, and digital networks. These infrastructures are vital for the functioning of society and the economy. When critical infrastructure like this are damaged during storms, it disturbs the economy and endangers the people in the storm, who are then left without the networks they need to contact the authorities for help.
European infrastructure is also vulnerable to extreme weather events.
Even though Europe does not have to deal with tropical cyclones, we are nonetheless not let off the hook so easily. European infrastructure is also vulnerable to extreme weather events. The Netherlands for example, despite having no experience with cyclones, is at risk for potential flooding. Flooding, like we have seen in Australia, does a lot of damage to the infrastructure and impairs the functioning of the economy. Everything is interconnected, so when the power grid is disrupted it affects the digital network – which, in turn, disturbs the trade within and between countries. It is, therefore, crucial that European infrastructure is designed and made to be resilient. Be prepared for the unexpected, because hazards and damage from the weather can happen anywhere at any time. Especially now with the ongoing climate change, it is important to look critically at the infrastructure in our country and cities. That way, we will be prepared for extreme weather situations, and we’ll be able to prevent the damage that Australia experienced with cyclone Debbie from occurring here.