As the Hunter reaches the first anniversary of the June 2007 storms, a new initiative that aims to better prepare a unique group of residents with the knowledge and strategies needed to better cope with natural disasters.
The project, by the University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre, will help residential parks develop disaster management plans in the event of storms, floods and bushfires.
It includes an audit of the Hunter region's 50 caravan parks and manufactured home villages will identify the impact of the June storms on residential parks to determine strategies for future events.
Community Research Team Leader Dr Graeme Stuart said many parks in the region were affected by the storms, but the extent of the impact was unknown.
"The strong winds and torrential rain during last year's storms were particularly terrifying for many people living in caravan parks and mobile homes.
"Like other sections of the community, some residents lost everything, families had to wade through waist-deep storm water and the psychological impact had a major negative effect, particularly on small children."
The audit will collect important information about how many residential parks were affected, how park managers and residents coped and identify areas that could be improved.
The project will be conducted in four stages:
- Interviews with staff from agencies involved in disaster planning and recovery to identify key areas needing to be addressed;
- An audit of residential parks in the Hunter region;
- Interviews with park managers and residents about their experiences during the June 2007 storms and how to improve future disaster responses: and
- Development of individual disaster plans for interested parks, in addition to recommendations to other agencies for improvements to processes.
"We believe the strong sense of community found in most residential parks provides an excellent foundation for the development of comprehensive disaster management plans that ensure residents get prompt help in the event of a natural disaster," Dr Stuart said.
The project is funded by the Australian and New South Wales Governments through the Hunter Community Recovery Fund.