Research brief: Disaster declarations linked to bushfires, floods and storms in NSW

Australia regularly experiences disasters triggered by natural hazards and New South Wales (NSW) the most populous State is no exception. To date, no publically available spatial and temporal analyses of disaster declarations triggered by hazards (specifically, bushfires, floods and storms) in NSW have been undertaken and no studies have explored the relationship between disaster occurrence and socio-economic disadvantage.

The authors source, collate and analyse data about bushfire, flood and storm disaster declarations between 2004 and 2014.

Floods resulted in the most frequent type of disaster declaration. The greatest number of disaster declarations occurred in 2012–2013.

Whilst no significant Spearman’s correlation exists between bushfire, flood and storm disaster declarations and the strength of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase, the authors observed that bushfire disaster declarations were much more common during El Niño, and flood disaster declarations were five times more common during La Niña phases.

The authors identified a spatial cluster or ‘hot spot’ of disaster declarations in the northeast of the State that is also spatially coincident with 43% of the most socio-economically disadvantaged Local Government Areas in NSW. The results have implications for disaster risk management in the State.

Paper: Disaster declarations associated with bushfires, floods and storms in NSW, Australia, between 2004 and 2014.

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