Long-term consequences of flooding: A case study of the 2011 Queensland floods
Professor Gerry FitzGerald, Dr Ghasem (Sam) Toloo, Sara Baniahmadi, Professor David Crompton and Professor Shilu Tong
ABSTRACT: Devastating floods in southeast Queensland in 2011 were the combination of flash flooding in the Lockyer Valley with riverine flooding in the Brisbane metropolitan area. While there is considerable information about the immediate impact on those affected, there is less understanding of the long-term health effects that follow such events. This study explored the perceptions of health effects and support received by people affected by the 2011 southeast Queensland flood six years after the event. A cross-sectional survey of 327 people was conducted in areas affected by the floods. The questionnaire sought information about the ongoing social, economic, demographic and self-declared physical and mental health effects. The data were analysed through comparison of those unaffected with those directly affected by the floods. Residents whose households were flooded were more likely to score their health negatively than non-affected residents and had higher reported rates of trauma, injury and mental illness. Twenty-six per cent of this group reported that they still experience some adverse health effects from the floods. Managing the longterm health implications of a flood-affected population is an important public policy task. Dissatisfaction with recovery operations and perceived injustices associated with insurance and compensation arrangements may aggravate health consequences. Early recognition and intervention may assist with reducing secondary effects.