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Keeping the Lights on

How FloodMapp NowCast supported Power Utility Energy Queensland in disaster response.

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FloodMapp has partnered with electricity company Energy Queensland to help prepare for, respond to and recover from flood events. Energy Queensland provides power to more than five million people across the state of Queensland. Power supply is a major part of communities and how we stay connected. It is vital for the operation of transport and critical infrastructure, relied on by hospitals and vulnerable populations and is a critical element of maintaining communication and services during a flood event.

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With more than 200,000 kilometres of electricity networks and 33 stand-alone microgrids, Energy Queensland has a large volume of assets at risk of flood damage which can have a significant flow-on effect to the community. That’s where FloodMapp comes in. This case study will demonstrate how FloodMapp’s product, NowCast, provided Energy Queensland with unrivaled situational awareness during and after two flood events to help keep the community functioning

Background

During the first quarter of 2022, South East Queensland received a significant amount of rainfall, causing major flooding to many communities. Records from the Bureau of Meteorology (Image 1) show that some areas received more than 1200mm in the 3 months leading up to the February/March event, with 300mm a day falling in the south east corner for 3 consecutive days from the 26-28th of February. This is roughly double the mean summer rainfall for the region.
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Image 1: This Bureau of Meteorology graphic shows the amount of rainfall that fell over Queensland during the first quarter in 2022

Flooding of the Mary River, 2022

One of the areas that received significant flooding was the Mary River catchment. Over the course of the 12-day flood event, the towns of Maryborough and Gympie were impacted by catastrophic flooding. On 23rd February, the Gympie flood gauge hit approximately 7.5 meters which triggered Energy Queensland to exercise their flood mitigation plans. The plans typically allow for the gauge to rise to 20 meters, however, during this event, that flood gauge exceeded approximately 24 meters - well above the normal de-energization and flood mitigation plans and in excess of any modelled scenario flood maps on file.

 

The weather system continued to progress south where it caused flooding throughout the Kilcoy and Somerset regions, before affecting the Brisbane River catchments of Ipswich and Lockyer. The weather system maintained its strength as it passed over the Logan River and Albert River catchments, ultimately crossing the border into New South Wales.

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The full extent of the impact to Energy Queensland and its customers has been broken down in the data below, reinforcing just how significant this flood event was for Queensland and the people, communities and critical infrastructure effected.

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Image 2: Energy Queensland’s breakdown of the impact of the flood event.

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Image 3: The blue shading indicates the outage areas within the Ipswich and Brisbane City catchments, caused by inundation of floodwater.

Energy Queensland utilized their access to FloodMapp’s live NowCast product, which displayed the current flood inundation extent in real-time, updating dynamically as the river levels peaked and receded. This provided operational situational awareness on the impact to Energy Queensland’s assets and enabled them to quantify the field requirement response and prioritize resources.

 

Energy Queensland also relied on NowCast to determine the status of site access and to respond to reported issues in flooded areas. For example, the live flood intelligence showed if crews were able to access a flooded substation by road or if it had become completely isolated. NowCast showed that many sources of the outages were not accessible to Energy Queensland crews so, instead, they were able to make an informed decision to activate de-energization plans. Having eyes on all of their assets, via their desktop, enabled Energy Queensland to maintain staff safety by identifying flooded assets and routes and avoid sending their personnel into dangerous, unpredictable environments to report on the situation.

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Burketown is a very small and isolated community on the Albert River in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland. It is remote with only one road that is useable during the dry season. This means that during the wet season, about November through to March or April, the only way into Burketown is by air.

Flooding of Burketown, 2023

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In early 2023, prior to the end of the normal summer storm season, Burketown suffered extensive flooding.

 

Energy Queensland received weather alerts warning of significant rainfall however they had very little information available to assess the dynamic situation, with stream level gauges located a significant distance from the township.

 

With no site crews stationed in Burketown itself, Energy Queensland couldn’t rely on on-the-ground reports for situational awareness either. It was extremely important for Energy Queensland to understand if the substation floor, communications and electronics inside the substation had been flooded, so they turned to FloodMapp’s NowCast.

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Image 4: The little green dot in the middle of that page which shows where our power station (substation) is located.

By using NowCast, Energy Queensland was able to determine that the substation was unaffected, which was later confirmed by post-event damages assessments. Instead of working from delayed information and needlessly shutting down power to the entire remote community, Energy Queensland was able to make decisions based on accurate, real-time and dynamic flood intelligence. As a result, Energy Queensland was able to keep the substation running, de-energize only directly impacted streets, which minimized outages for the majority of the community. Also, because NowCast showed that the airport was largely unaffected, Energy Queensland could confidently decide to safely move helicopter crews in and out of Burketown to assist the community.

Without FloodMapp’s real-time flood intelligence, Energy Queensland wouldn’t have been able to plan effectively or respond in a timely manner and the community would have suffered. With the situational awareness, provided by FloodMapp products, Energy Queensland was able to maintain public safety, de-energize specific networks in key impact areas, plan restoration activities and, based on the impact to infrastructure, estimate when power would return to communities and communicate that to residents.

The Outcome

FloodMapp products directly support Energy Queensland's key priorities

One: Safety of crews – Energy Queensland doesn’t want to deploy crews into an area that is unsafe, both environmentally and electrically. Being able to see the inundation extent on a map, that is being updated in real-time, prevents Energy Queensland from having to unnecessarily deploy personnel into dangerous environments, just to report on the current situation.  

Two: Safety of customers and consumers – By understanding the extent of the flood impacts, Energy Queensland can determine how to best mitigate the risks of a flood event to keep safety of customers and consumers as the highest priority.

Three: Accuracy of information – Accurate and updated information allows Energy Queensland to understand the issue and respond quickly, even before crews have had a chance to drive or fly there in person. It also allows Energy Queensland to understand the risks to particular assets and therefore ensure that the right resources are deployed to the right locations, and in a timely manner.

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Read more case studies here

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FAQ

  • What is FloodMapp's point of difference?
    We offer a world-first model for scalable, real-time flood mapping. Our proprietary modelling software, DASH, delivers street level flood impact extents across whole states or countries. Where current flood warnings advise of the time and height of a predicted flood peak, our model will predict which specific properties or assets on a street will be impacted or show those that currently are or were previously impacted. FloodMapp’s products support all phases of the emergency management process, enabling situational awareness before, during and after a flood. We’re different because we understand that every flood is different and dynamic. We focus on modelling all phases of a flood event to answer the questions "Where is it going to flood, and what people, property and critical infrastructure will be impacted?”, "What is the extent of the flooding right now?" and "What was the maximum extent of the flood?" We bridge the gap in situational awareness by providing automatic updates of flood impact extent every hour, 24/7, as the flood event unfolds.
  • What locations do you provide coverage in?
    We have growing operational coverage in Australia and the United States, with new regions coming online each week. If you are interested in other areas of the world, please contact us to register your interest.
  • How accurate are your results?
    Our products are built for emergency managers and their peers, with a focus on modelling flood extents in real-time to provide round-the-clock situational awareness. We validate our models based on a variety of publicly and client-provided sources. A large-scale review showed FloodMapp models correctly identify up to 85% of inundated properties, when compared to state government damage assessment datasets. 

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