What is a Storm?
The meteorological definition of a storm is a wind measuring 10 or higher on the Beaufort scale (a measurement that relates wind speed to observed conditions at sea or on land). In practical terms this means a wind speed of 24.5 m/s (89 km/h, 55 mph) or more.
Extreme storms can bring heavy rain, strong wind, hail, thunder and lightning (which in turn can start wildfires). If the weather conditions are severe enough there is even the possibility a storm could present as a tornado, waterspout or cyclone. Depending on season and local geography, some storms can last up to a week. Regional and seasonal severe weather phenomena can include blizzards, snowstorms, ice storms, and even dust storms.
Why storms are considered Emergencies
Severe storms can disrupt essential services and agriculture, cause major property damage, personal injury and loss of life.
Heavy Rainfall may result in destructive flooding, and is still considered a threat for people living inland. Flash flooding in urban areas, defined as a rapid rise in water levels, can occur quickly due to intense rainfall. See Councils flooding page for more detail on that type of emergency.
High Winds can be strong enough to be dangerous to those caught in them. Winds of 33 m/s (119km/h, 74mph) or more can destroy buildings and turn debris, such as signs, roofing material, siding and small items left outside into missiles.
Storm surge and large waves pose the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. Storm Surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm's winds. The destructive power of storm surge and large battering waves can result in loss of life, buildings destroyed, beach and dune erosion and road and bridge damage along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland. In estuaries and wetlands salt water intrusion endangers public health and the environment. Storm surge is made worse when storms combine with the natural astronomical tide.
What can I do?
The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, developed by the Council of Australian Governments, provides high-level guidance on disaster management to agencies with a role in emergency management. Foremost in the Strategy is the principle of all of society taking responsibility for preventing disasters.
In the context of Storms:
People should be aware of their own risks and should follow advice from emergency services when responding to warnings. Visit Councils flooding information page for more information on how to prevent flooding caused by heavy rain.
Extreme weather warnings are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology
To increase community resilience, individuals should actively plan and prepare for protecting their own life and property. Resilience is also increased by knowing and being involved in local community disaster or emergency management arrangements, and volunteer role.
Government agencies, local governments and communities
Organisations include storm risk within their Community Emergency Risk Assessment activities. This includes consideration within emergency management planning and land use planning.
Resilience is developed through land management and planning arrangements, assessment of risks, supporting individuals and communities to prepare for extreme events, and having effective education programs available.
Additional prevention tasks carried out by state and local government include:
- Risk assessments to gain an appreciation of storm risk
- Engaging with the community regarding storm risk
- Working with communities to plan the management of storm risk
- Providing emergency information and storm warnings
- Ensuring an effective, well-coordinated response during storms
- Helping communities to recover and learn following a storm and build their resilience to future events.
Council regularly maintains storm water infrastructure as part of routine maintenance schedules, however anyone can notify Council if they notice damaged or blocked drains or inlets.
There are many groups of potentially vulnerable people (e.g. older adults, people with disabilities, people living in poverty) whose unique needs may not accounted for in storm emergency plans.
Vulnerable people require more attention when they are experiencing an Emergency situation compared to everyone else. Planning to help friends and relatives who are considered vulnerable contributes greatly to emergency resilience in communities.
Private Industry and businesses
Businesses play a fundamental role in supporting a community’s resilience to disasters. They provide resources, expertise and essential services on which the community may depend. Businesses, including critical infrastructure providers, can also make a contribution by understanding the risks that they face and ensuring that they are able to continue providing services during or soon after a disaster.
Businesses should plan for the risk of disruption, and ensure arrangements are in place to maintain critical services where required.
The links below are designed to help businesses plan for emergency situations:
Business Continuity plans – A quick guide to impact analysis and plan development
Plan and prepare – State Government advice on how to protect your business
Be aware of the current conditions:
How you might be warned about a storm:
Severe Weather Warnings are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology to alert communities to the threat of severe weather. These warnings are provided to media outlets and are also available on the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Listen to your local ABC radio station and other media for information, updates and advice
When an Earthquake Happens
Keep your property well maintained to prepare for a storm event:
- Keep your gutters clean. The frequency you clean them should be dependent on how many trees are near your home. The seed pods of many trees can clog gutters and are not as obvious a problem as leaves. In most cases you can add the gutter debris to your compost. With clear gutters, water damage to you property is less likely because it will drain off the roof properly.
- Fix drainage problems to prevent flooding and standing water on your property. Landscape and grading experts can offer possible solutions to even the toughest drainage issues. Solutions range from adding soil to low areas, to installing plastic drainage pipes to draw water away from where it stands. Council provide Engineering Standards to assist Engineers and Developer with the design of civil infrastructure within the City of Port Adelaide Enfield
- Fit rainwater and storm water tanks. They can have many environmental and cost benefits as well as having a positive effect on your own stormwater management during heavy rainfall.
- Maintain your Trees. Remove dead tree branches, they can break off in a storm posing a danger to people as well as your car and home. Cut back branches that overhang your house. A fallen branch can considerably damage your properties roof and overhanging tree limbs can deposit seeds and leaves in your gutters, potentially clogging them and causing overflow of storm water.
Develop your emergency plan and emergency kit
Plan if you are going to:
- Stay Home before you choose this option, make sure you know your elevation. If we experience a storm that may put a significant storm surge in your home, you need to look at the other options. Also, people in manufactured and mobile homes cannot use this option. Mobile homes and manufactured homes are not built to withstand the high winds associated with tropical storms and hurricanes.
- Stay with a Friend or Relative who has a safe place if this is your plan, make arrangements in advance. You need to make sure that where you are going is safe. It defeats the purpose of evacuating if you go to an unsafe place.
- Relocate Out of the Area You may wish to travel out of harms way. Be sure to bring a road map and make sure that your car is full of fuel. Stay away from the coast in case of storm surge and waterways due to potential flash flooding and swollen creeks. Make arrangements in advance if you can. If you decide to use this option, go early, traffic will be heavy if you leave at the last minute, and you may not make it to your destination
Protect your finances
Emergencies are really expensive which can become a significant long-term burden. To ensure that your finances are safeguarded you can protect your main income source by taking out life insurance and income protection insurance.
You should also give consideration to the costs of cleaning up damaged property and replacing lost items to protect your family if the household is affected by an emergency.
Check your insurance cover - A quick guide to understanding Insurance
In order to support many diverse people and cultures the New South Wales SES has provided a number of storm and flood safe brochures in a wide range of languages. There are written and audio information packs available which will provide key information to build resilience in the event of a storm or flood.
Please note: Whilst the items are branded by the NSW SES the messages contained on their webpage are still largely relevant to the residents of South Australia.
To find out more about the South Australian SES please visit their web page
Once a storm warning has been issued
- Close all shutters (if your house has them)
- Stay inside and keep away from windows and skylights.
- Get your emergency kit ready to go
- Secure and bring inside where possible
- all outdoor furniture
- anything else that is not tied down
- Put vehicles in carports or garages. If there isn't shelter park away from trees and powerlines
- Make sure your pets are safe
- Check to see if your neighbours are aware of the warning
Don't stay outside when a storm is in the area.
Seek shelter in a hard top vehicle or preferably a solid building. Thunderstorms can be very dangerous, even if they seem far away. If you hear thunder, stop whatever you are doing and seek shelter - lightning can strike long before the rain starts. Don't rush to complete a task. After you hear the last thunderclap, wait 30 minutes before going back outside.
If you are in a vehicle during a storm
- don't drive through floodwater
- slow down and turn headlights on
- be alert and watch for hazards on the road such as fallen powerlines and trees
- avoid dirt roads as surfaces will slippery and muddy
- If you are outdoors during lightning strikes:
- Stay away from metal poles, fences and clothes-lines
- Dismount horses, bikes and open vehicles
- if undertaking water activities leave the water immediately
- If you are boating, go ashore or shelter under a bridge or jetty.
If shelter isn't available
- Crouch or squat: with knees drawn up and feet together preferably in a hollow in the ground, make yourself a small target
- Keep hands off the ground, don't lie down if in a group, spread out 10 metres apart
- Remove metal objects
- Stay away from hilltops, ridges and gullies, rock overhangs and shallow caves
- Keep well away from water and don't shelter under trees.
- If your hair stands on end, or if you hear buzzing nearby move immediately
The State Emergency Service (SES) is the primary provider of storm response across the state. During and after a storm the SES can:
- Secure and cover damaged buildings
- Remove trees and branches that have fallen on houses, cars, sheds and across roads and driveways.
When an Earthquake Happens
When a heavy rainfall and potential flooding warning is issued by the BOM Council will begin to sandbag potential flooding areas and will arrange for field crews to be rostered over the event (including during the times when the heaviest rain is expected)
Council also make Sandbags available for public collection from Willochra St Depot next-door to the Largs North Fire Station. After 6pm on the day of an event, any remaining sandbags will be left on pallets outside the gates of the depot. If you are unable to fill your own sandbags please don’t hesitate to contact Councils Customer Service Department to arrange for some assistance.
Wait until an area is declared safe before returning home.
Check your house for damage, and phone the SES on 132 500 if you need help.
Be cautious when entering your home after a disaster. When you go inside your home, enter carefully and check for damage.
- Check for Gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside and Call your gas supplier. Remember! Do not smoke or use electrical items, candles or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas.
- If you suspect that electrical appliances were damaged by rain or power surges, don't use them until they have been professionally tested.
- Check your roof, foundation and walls. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
- If Water pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with SA Water before using any water, do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
- Food and other supplies. Throw out all food that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals.
- Contact your insurance provider. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
If you cannot return home
The Department of Human Services
The SA Housing Authority Department can assist with accommodation in crisis situations. The department brings together a range of services and policies designed to support vulnerable people and to help build resilient communities. More information can be found on these services can be found on the SA Gov website.
This department also offers a large number of services designed to assist you in recovering from an emergency situation including relocation and displacement advice, information on Volunteering and support to replace documentation. Find out more about how they can help you by visiting their Disaster Recovery website Disaster Recovery website.
Other offerings provided include Youth Justice, Disability and Reform, and Community and Support services.
Everything you need to know about managing your pets in an emergency can be found on the RSPCA website.
There is also some additional information on our website.
Check on your neighbours, if safe to do so.
Keep listening to your local radio for information and advice.
Stay away from:
- Flooded creeks and drains
- Fallen trees and powerlines
- Damaged structures.
Pick up yard debris once the storm has passed.
Sometimes, the best time for emergency preparedness is immediately after a storm, when it’s top of mind. When the storm has passed, assess any storm damage in your yard. Remove broken tree limbs and pick up windblown debris immediately to avoid injuries and to limit your yard clearing duties the next time you mow.
Provided the sandbags are properly filled and maintained. Sandbags usually last for one year. Pay attention to local environmental protection laws before disposing of used sandbags. Sandbags exposed to contaminated floodwaters may pose an environmental hazard and require special handling.
Felling a dangerous broken tree should be left to a professional cutter. A downed tree may weigh several tons and can easily injure or kill an unaware chain saw operator. Injuries typically occur more frequently during clean up after an event than during the actual storm.
If a professional cutter is not available, here are some helpful tips on using a chain saw to clean up debris after a storm:
- Read your safety manual that came with your chain saw
- Ensure the chainsaw is well maintained before use
- Do not over-reach
- Do not cut above shoulder height
- Never cut when tired or alone
- Keep children and pets away from the cutting area
In the recovery stages of an event people with trade skills can become a very important resource for the community.
In the case of large scale events; State and Local Government resources will be deployed to clean-up and repair operations in public areas. Support that these agencies can offer for clean-up and repair on private properties is extremely limited, because of this volunteers are at the forefront of strengthening disaster resilience in Australia.
They can assist neighbours in repair and recovery of property, clean-up and debris removal and supply distribution.
Non-government organisations and Volunteers
Many NGO’s organise volunteers during the recovery stages of a disaster and Australians often turn to them for support or advice and the dedicated work of these agencies and organisations is critical to helping communities to cope with, and recover from, a disaster. Australian governments will continue to partner with these agencies and organisations to spread the disaster resilience message and to find practical ways to strengthen disaster resilience in the communities they serve.
If you would like to volunteer to help in any way after a large scale flooding event please contact one of the following organisations:
Port Adelaide Enfield Council - http://www.portenf.sa.gov.au/page.aspx
Red Cross - https://www.redcross.org.au/
Protect your finances
There might be financial assistance available from governments and other agencies after an emergency, which is usually small and targeted at immediate needs. It won’t be enough to replace your home or valuables. Thinking about how you can cover financial losses caused by an emergency will save you a lot of stress and burden.
If you have insurance cover for your property and possessions, contact your insurer as early as possible.
National emergency and disaster assistance
The following contact details may be useful:
- Australian Government disaster recovery assistance hotline: 180 2266
- Disaster Recovery Payment – Provides a one-off, non-means tested payment for eligible adults and children who have been adversely affected by a major disaster.
- Disaster Assist - Provides information on assistance for current disasters.
- National Registration and Inquiry System - NRIS registers, finds and reunites family, friends and loved ones after an emergency. It is managed and operated by Australian Red Cross.
People evacuated in an emergency (or people trying to locate family or friends) can phone the Red Cross Inquiry Centre on 1800 727 077 for callers in Australia or international callers on +61 393 283991.
Long Term Recovery
There may be instances where recovery from a disaster can take longer than anticipated.
While no one likes to talk about it, emergencies can cause loss of life. This can have emotional and practical impact to you and those around you. Ensuring you have life insurance and an up to date Will can help to ease the burden on those left behind.
There may also be things that affect you normal daily routine such as:
School and child care closures
Enforced work place closures
Injury or disability caused by the emergency event
The following contacts are always available (not just in an emergency) to help those in need:
- Kids Helpline Call: 1800 551 800
- Lifeline Call: 131 114
- Mental Health: Assessment and Crisis Intervention Service (ACIS) Opening hours: 24 hours Call: 131 465
- Parent Helpline Call: 1300 364 100
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline Call: 1800 882 436
Industry and businesses
If you, your customers or suppliers are affected by the emergency event you should enact your Business Continuity Plan to speed up your recovery.
Certain types of event may cause panic purchasing which could have an adverse effect on area of your business and your ability to re-stock your products through your suppliers. Transport disruptions may also cause delays in supply.