February 1992 flood: roads were awash in Pacific Paradise and Marcoola.
February 1992 flood: roads were awash in Pacific Paradise and Marcoola. Staff photographer

Flood's cautionary reminder

IT WOULD surprise many people who have moved here over the past quarter century that they have yet to experience a truly extreme weather event and flood in that time.

Yes there have been floods that have significantly impacted sections of the region but none of the scale or degree of the last major event.

The 1992 flood came when the Maroochy River broke its banks behind Sunshine Coast Airport after heavy rain delivered close to 700mm into the catchment over three days. Water flowed chest-deep through Pacific Paradise and into homes in Maroochydore creating an inland sea that stretched from Bli Bli to Coolum and beyond.

Significant development on the floodplain has come in the following years each individually responsible for showing a no-worsening impact on property around it. The cumulative impacts remain untested beyond modelling and best engineering practice.

As the Sunshine Coast enters another stage of its exponential growth, the flood's 25th anniversary should serve as a cautionary reminder to both State and local government to take care as they plan the region's future.

The underlying characteristics of the floodplain which now holds the bulk of the Coast's population remains unchanged and ultimately flood waters have to find their level.

As we move further away from significant weather events, planners need to be ever mindful of the consequences and show rigour in assessing the vulnerability of new development.