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Be alert and ready - La Niña is coming

Be warned: the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a La Niña alert and wild, catastrophic weather may be coming. Are you ready for it?

La Niña could bring higher rainfall, tropical cyclones and gale-force winds, causing devastating damage and severe flooding to properties. 

This weather phenomenon could impact across much of Australia, affecting many communities, including strata properties. Southern and eastern Australia is particularly vulnerable.

The previous La Niña saw devastating and deadly flooding, especially in Queensland, where over two billion dollars’ worth of damage was recorded. There was also widespread flooding in Victoria.

Recently, we have seen a freak tornado tear through Armidale and hailstorms in Sydney . A supercell on the 20th October unleashed a raging hailstorm on the mid north coast of NSW. The Coffs Harbour region saw hail the size of golf balls and flash flooding that caused massive damage to homes, businesses and cars.

If you are a strata property owner it’s vital you ensure you’ve done everything possible to mitigate any damage that may come about from La Niña.

It is good practice to have the local state emergency services number on the common area notice board so that residents can call for help in the event of a major event causing damage to the property.

What you can do to minimise La Niña risks

Rainfall and hail

A good maintenance schedule to minimize potential for water damage to the property:

  • Thoroughly check and clear gutters, drains, downpipes and balconies.
  • Replace any deteriorating silicon on the windows and roof.
  • Check roofs, especially on older buildings, for waterproof capabilities to prevent seepage into ceiling and wall cavities. Ensure tiles and roof sheeting is secure - these can not only cause leaks, but also dangerous flying debris in high winds.
  • Check stormwater and flood inlet grates in basements and underground car parks to ensure they can handle sudden deluges.

Hail storms can cause significant damage, cracking or even breaking skylights and windows, leading to rain damage to internal areas. Large hailstones can crack roof tiles, dent aluminium roofs and air conditioner units, block gutters, and result in water escaping into the building.

Contact the local state emergency services who will be able to assist by placing tarpaulins onto the roof or over damage windows.

Flooding

A few things to do for properties in areas that are prone to flood:

  • Keep contents and appliances out of areas that are at risk of flooding.
  • Encourage residents and businesses in units at, or below, ground-level to lift valuable items and electrical equipment off the floor.
  • When there is the possibility of major flooding, strata committees should at least know where they can access sandbags in an emergency, if they don’t have barriers on hand already.
  • Contact the local state emergency services for help.

High winds

Gale-force winds and cyclones can put building structures under strain, particularly windows. They can also cause secondary damage by dislodging trees and branches, and turning loose items into dangerous missiles. Regular maintenance of the property and gardens will help reduce the risk of damage. A couple of practical tips include:

  • Cutting back trees and overhanging branches if they pose a risk of falling and damaging the building.
  • Advise the building’s occupants to secure any items on balconies or in yards.

What you should do after La Niña strikes

Once the danger has passed, strata committees or their representatives should conduct a thorough inspection of all public areas on the property. A comprehensive report should be compiled, no matter how minor the damage.

The report should detail:

  • Date and time
  • The adverse weather conditions
  • Damage caused by the weather event
  • Take photos of the damage before repairs commence
  • Previous condition of damaged area of the property
  • History of maintenance or upkeep if applicable
  • Any immediate rectification required and undertaken
  • Expert assessments
  • Plans for future repairs
  • Mitigation strategies that have been put in place or will be put in place to prevent further damage.

The more detailed and extensive the report is, the easier it will be for insurers to advise on the potential recovery of costs to remedy the damage.