Social housing flood resilience in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley

This project works with social housing tenants and their Community Housing Providers (CHPs) in the Nepean-Hawkesbury floodplain to help tenants become aware of the flood risks to their home and surroundings and to help them be prepared for emergencies. This project is funded by Infrastructure NSW’s Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Risk Management Strategy, under its Communities of Concern Program. Inner Sydney Voice brings to this project our experience in working with social housing tenants and our experience in disaster preparedness and resilience in our Resilient Australia NSW Communiuty Award for building disaster resilience in social housing communities.

Why floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley (HNV) are so dangerous 

Floods in the HNV pose a significant risk to people’s lives, livelihoods and homes because of the valley’s unique landscape and the size of its population. The Insurance Council of Australia has determined that the HNV floodplain has the most significant flood exposure in NSW (if not Australia), due to the topography of the area. The HNV is fed by five significant river systems, which all flow into the floodplain and water is constrained in leaving the floodplain by the narrow gorge system that flow to the sea. The geography of this area means that the HNV can have rapid flood onset during a period of sustained heavy rain. As a result, floodwaters back up and rise rapidly, causing wide, deep and dangerous floods. The area that would be subject to flooding is massive, at around 425 square kilometres of floodplain mainly in Penrith, Hawkesbury, The Hills Shire and Blacktown Council areas. There are currently over 1600 social housing properties in the region and much of the housing stock in the valley is built in areas exposed to flooding. Many tenants would struggle to self-evacuate when directed, causing significant and even life threatening issues for this community.

Follow this link to an SES video for a closer look at why floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley are so dangerous

Social Housing Community Resilience Network  

Liaison with the social housing sector to date has demonstrated there is low flood awareness and limited coordination between social housing communities and government and non-government agencies around emergency planning. For this reason, a Social Housing Community Resilience Network has been established which brings together key stakeholders from emergency services, government and non-government agencies, CHPs and tenants in order strengthen the social housing sector’s resilience to flooding in the HNV. This Network provides an open platform to collectively address barriers to building resilience, and share resources and expertise to develop strategies for addressing these barriers. This way the responsibility of building disaster resilience is shared among local stakeholders and CHPs have a greater capacity to support their tenants through a flood emergency.

 

For more information on this project please email Jo Zappia on resilience@innersydneyvoice.org.au

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