Community resilience following natural disasters

In March 2010, rural and remote Queensland experienced major flooding from Springsure, west of Gladstone in Central Queensland, west to Bedourie and south along the NSW border which equates to an area the size of Victoria.

Charleville was inundated by two major floods within a week and 140 residents were relocated to an evacuation centre at the showgrounds, appoximately 200 homes were flood affected in Roma. The town of St George experienced a once in a century flood resulting in the relocation of 30 aged care residents and 8 hospital patients to Brisbane.

In the face of adversity, many smaller communities and primary producers suffered stock and crop losses and were isolated. However resilience was displayed through true community spirit by volunteering to restore services, making contact and engagement with the neighbours, contending with post disaster issues such as insurance, health and personal needs.Community resilience following natural disasters in rural and remote areas can be addressed by the adaption of the basic concepts of emergency management such as prevention, preparedness, response and recovery strategies.

These principles need to be linked by the adaption of basic disaster connectedness strategies to reduce distress and provide basic needs. To improve resilience, the connection with social supports for the establishment of brief or ongoing contacts with primary support persons or other sources is necessary for the continuum of care. The well established local networks such as, primary producer groups, churches, schools and service groups highlight the community spirit with primary interventions.

Meanwhile collaborative services from local, state, federal and non-government agencies do assist with ongoing recovery strategies.

The continuum of care process and supportive strategies will in time reduce the human – social impact and strengthen the resilience and mental health of communities that have faced adversity.

Mr Greg Eustace - Principal Advisor Emergency Management, Mental Health Directorate, Qld Health, QLD

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