East Coast Lows and the Newcastle/Central Coast Pasha Bulker storm

Authors: Danielle Verdon-Kidd, Anthony Kiem, Garry Willgoose and Philip Haines
Year: 2010

The ‘Pasha Bulker’ storm was the first and most serious of the 5 east coast lows (ECL) that affected the coastal regions betweeen Illawarra and the Hunter, NSW in June 2007. The location is already prone to flooding, but the severity of the impacts was found to be exacerbated by the lack of standard storm emergency communication procedures, lack of community awareness and preparedness, obstructed access to emergency service vehicles and Disaster Recovery Centres by flood waters, blockage of stormwater drainage systems by debris, and above-average daily rainfall in the days leading up to the storm. Elements of resilience and adaptive capacity that contributed to the successful management of the event included: cooperation of all emergency services, strong community spirit in the form of volunteer assistance, and storm-information communication assistance from local radio stations. ‘Pasha Bulker’ highlighted key factors contributing to storm/disaster management vulnerability in the region, and a number of adaptive actions have subsequently been implemented by local City Councils to improve flood management, community awarness, and warning systems. There has also been a broader recognition by State and Federal governments of the need to better understand ECLs in relation to climate change, impacts and adaptation. This study is one of a suite of Historical Case Studies of Extreme Events conducted under Phase 1 of the NCCARF Synthesis and Integrative Research Program to better understand the requirements of successful adaptation to future climate change.

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