School of Civil Engineering

The none-structural storm damage: ceiling failure due to water ingress into roof cavity. Author provided

Matthew Mason, Lecturer, on The Conversation

When Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall in North Queensland early in 2017, it led to nearly A$1 billion in insured losses. Fortunately, there were no deaths or serious injuries where people sheltered in buildings.

We conducted a detailed study into what sort of damage took place during Cyclone Debbie. This involved taking direct measurements of winds within communities as the storm came ashore. We then returned after the storm to assess the damage to buildings caused by wind, wind-driven water entry into buildings (water ingress), and storm tide inundation.

We found that buildings designed and constructed using appropriate codes and standards provided safe refuge from Cyclone Debbie’s winds. However, these regulations did not stop significant volumes of water entering these buildings and causing major financial loss and community disruption.

Unless the amount of water entering buildings is reduced, the cost of severe storms will continue to rise.