Whether it's Eugowra, Forbes or Echuca, a recent survey from Queensland indicates just how long the road to recovery might be for businesses affected by recent flooding in embattled townships further south.
It has now been nine months since the February-March floods in Southeast QLD and NSW that have since been classed as the most expensive natural disaster in the nation's history at a cost of $5.65 billion for insurers.
To gain an understanding of the disaster's effects, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) conducted a survey six months on and found 47 per cent of the state's businesses were experiencing long-term, ongoing impacts to their financial viability.
The CCIQ’s 2022 South East Queensland Floods Report takes into account direct and indirect impacts on operations, staff, accessibility, economic activity and supply chain disruptions.
CEO Heidi Cooper said the findings illustrated the unique impact of the flooding circumstances, which were compounded against existing and ongoing economic and business constraints.
“In February many Queensland businesses were still recovering financially and emotionally from the impacts of COVID and were then further hit by the floods,” Cooper said.
“While we saw wide-spread business impacts among close to 50 per cent of businesses we surveyed, 20 per cent told us they were directly impacted.
"More than half of impacted respondents indicated moderate to critical impacts to their short-term business sales."
Cooper said a disaster can impact businesses in many ways, including forced closures, inundation and power loss.
“However these findings illustrate natural disasters impact the state’s business community, supply chain and workforces beyond the disaster zone and can have lasting direct and indirect impacts on businesses," she said.
“We know disaster impacts are often on-going and businesses can still be affected even after the physical recovery is finished.
“In fact, more than 47 per cent of respondents indicated long-term, ongoing impacts to their financial viability.”
Of businesses that were impacted and reported lost earnings, the average loss was more than $185,000 - an average of 12 per cent of annual turnover. The median loss was $50,000, or 10 per cent of annual turnover.
Businesses surveyed closed for a median of five days.
One in 10 businesses indicated they couldn’t claim the disaster on their insurance. CCIQ Pulse data for the September 2022 quarter shows insurance premium costs were among the most significant growth constraints for businesses across the state.
“In the days after the disaster, CCIQ provided a submission to the Queensland Government with recommendations based on response, relief and recovery,” Cooper said.
"In the six months since the disaster we’ve worked to ensure businesses across the state have access to resources and support to ensure they can maintain day-to-day productivity and confidently plan for the future of their business.
"In particular, we know mental health and wellbeing support is among the most significant concerns for Queensland businesses. It’s why we’re working to ensure business owners and workforces have access to mental health support services when and where they need it."
Ahead of the Queensland State Budget in June, CCIQ made a series of recommendations to support disaster resilient regions, including to expand funding arrangements for preparedness efforts and build resilience in regions. Accelerated investments in existing transport infrastructure assets to build resilience against extreme weather events was also recommended.
“We know long-term disaster preparedness and resilience is critical to allow Queensland businesses to plan and recovery from natural disasters, now and in the future,” Cooper said.
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