Australia is now in cyclone season which began on 1 November.
So proactive strata communities should consider their storm readiness.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has just announced the first cyclone for the season – Cyclone Owen – although a likely El Nino this year means the chance of more tropical cyclones than normal is small.
However, that doesn’t mean that we’re immune from potentially destructive storms. And Australia has never had a season without at least one cyclone crossing the coast.
Bruce Gunn, the state manager of BOM Queensland said any cyclone that formed in the Coral Sea had a one-in-four chance of crossing the coast.
Cyclone season ends on 30 April each year. “It only takes one tropical cyclone to make a season, just like we saw with Tropical Cyclone Debbie,” he said.
Debbie Does Damage
Cyclone Debbie was declared as Australia’s second most costly cyclone with $1.7 billion worth of damage caused from Townsville in North Queensland to Lismore in northern New South Wales – a record only beaten by 1974’s Cyclone Tracy. Cyclone Debbie killed 14.
James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station released a report in 2014 detailing the results of a pilot study on the risk to strata properties in cyclone-prone areas.
A study of cyclones from 1999 to 2011 revealed the most common forms of damage in buildings:
- Water ingress, which can result in a claim even though there has been no damage to structural elements;
- Failure of specific structural elements (e.g. batten-to-rafter connections);
- Failure of other building elements (e.g. windows or garage doors);
- Damage to the building envelope from windborne debris;
- Damage to fences, sheds, pergolas and other ancillary items; and
- Damage to buildings and sea-side facilities due to storm surge effects.
The university recommended that Bodies Corporate invest in a programmed property inspection every seven to ten years that specifically lists and ranks potential risks. The benefits include potential reductions of insurance premiums and improvements to building standards.
Be Storm Ready
So now is the time to be prepared – as individuals and as a community.
Various web sites such as Harden Up have practical tips and tools to make sure you and your community are prepared for the most typical forms of natural disaster affecting Australians.
One of the great suggestions is to have a map of your property and clearly mark the location of your electrical switchboard, natural gas connection or tanks, water supply, and solar inverter, and keep this with your Household Emergency Plan.
This allows utility services to take fast action in an emergency.
If your community has a building manager or facilities manager, there is every chance, they have this information at the ready.
In addition, use the upcoming season to identify potential risks before bad weather uncovers them for you.
Things to consider are:
- On-site maintenance
- Getting an up-to-date insurance valuation
For additional resources:
SSKB is Australia’s leading strata management company specialising delivering expert advice and management to Owners Corporation and Body Corporate communities.