As anticipated, on Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd July Dunedin and other parts of New Zealand’s South Island were hit by a downpour which resulted in flooding in many areas. This shows that our coastal settlements are not only vulnerable when it comes to sea level rise, but also at risk of flooding in rain events like this.
Flooding is a real risk for settlements in flood hazard zones. As global temperatures rise the air becomes warmer. With warmer air more moisture evaporates and rises into the atmosphere. More moisture in the air means we’ll get more rain and snow including heavy downpours. Flood events, which have been infrequent, will become more frequent and perhaps annual events.
Responding to immediate need is important. However we must also continue to work on long term adaptation. It is easy to anticipate future events and having done so we must prepare.
The Climate Safe House Project is one such adaptive solution, and its urgency has been highlighted by recent events. We also need residents to actively participate in preparing and planning for the future. Please make note of community meetings relating to emergency preparedness and try to get along. Talk with your neighbours about what happened and what could be done better. Check out the drains outside your property and clear them of weeds regularly. Share your stories. It is only when we know about problems that we can collectively work to resolve them.