“It was the most intense rainfall I have ever witnessed. I arrived in Townsville a day after the dam gates fully opened and the rainfall was relentless for another 48 hours. As the flood waters started to recede, it allowed us to mobilise and begin a coordinated response to understand the impacts on residential and commercial property.”
This is Mitchell Damrow’s experience of his deployment to the 2019 Townsville floods.
Mitchell comes to FloodMapp as a GIS Solutions Specialist and the 32nd recruit after 17 years in state government, including over 11 years with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA), where he participated in and led Damage Assessment and Reconstruction Monitoring (DARM) operations for several historic disasters across Queensland.
GIS (Geographic Information Systems) can include everything from collation and maintenance of spatial and non-spatial data, creating static and interactive maps, analytics and developing presentations or reports to explain your assessments and recommendations.
Beyond the Townsville floods, Mitchell was also involved in response and recovery operations for the Western Queensland floods (2012), Bundaberg floods (2013), Cyclone Marcia (2015), Cyclone Debbie (2017) and the South East Queensland floods (2022) in the State Disaster Coordination Centre (SDCC) as a GIS Liaison Officer, or in the field supporting the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Technical Rescue Unit.
Mitchell was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for exemplary support during the 2019 Townsville floods and was also formally recognised and personally acknowledged by the Health Minister for his work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was tasked to support Queensland Health with developing the GIS mapping component, creating COVID-19 heat maps for cumulative cases around Queensland. This involved spatially representing the source of transmission in web-based and desktop applications to inform the senior officials, including directors-general, ministers and the Premier. The heat maps were also published and made publicly available on the Queensland Health website,” Mitchell said.
In addition to responding to disasters as they happened, Mitchell also did a variety of recovery work which included mapping damage to essential public assets that required restoration and conducting follow-up assessments of impacted residential and commercial property.
“I led reconstruction monitoring operations in Queensland from 2017. We would go back to flood, cyclone or bushfire affected communities every three months to revisit and monitor progress of residential and commercial properties that were damaged by the event. That’s the real, raw, face-to-face work. People in all states of repair and experiencing the full spectrum of challenges in their recovery,” Mitchell said.
With a wealth of experience and having used FloodMapp’s products as a client, Mitchell made the move to FloodMapp in October 2022 after meeting Co-Founders Juliette Murphy and Ryan Prosser in 2021.
“I was immediately impressed by their professionalism, vision and passion for flood intelligence. I thought FloodMapp was such an exciting company and on the path to great success. I’m excited to offer my experience to FloodMapp, having witnessed how their data is used to support response and recovery operations throughout the 2022 floods. During this event, I personally used ForeCast to predict impacts of the flooding, NowCast to monitor the escalating situation, and PostCast to know exactly where damage assessment crews were needed to assess property impacts,” Mitchell said.
As FloodMapp’s allrounder and “first dedicated GIS guy”, Mitchell is the primary contact for customers when they are onboarded and if they need any technical support moving forward.
“My job here is to understand our customers problems and to find a solution. I’m here to help our customers figure out the best ways to integrate our products with their existing GIS systems and workflows. I’m the liaison between our customers and FloodMapp. Also, within FloodMapp, I’m the liaison between the Software, Flood Operations and Business Operations teams. Though I’m not on the tools much anymore, it’s great to be able to teach others my passion,” Mitchell said.
“Part of my role is using my prior experience to know how we should evolve our products at FloodMapp. From personally being in those response and recovery positions, I understand the environment and context that it’s used in and how the data can be further built and shared. I hope I can be a part of building it into something even bigger and better.”
And his inspiration? Queenslanders.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see how my work makes a real-life impact on people. The rawness of being able to use your skills to help others makes you feel like you’re making a difference,” Mitchell said.
We’re excited to have Mitchell onboard as he continues to make a real-life impact with the FloodMapp team.
Mitchell is a GIS Solutions Specialist at FloodMapp. Connect via LinkedIn.