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Is all the rain in Sydney and broader NSW costing you money?

Alex Ritchie avatar
Alex Ritchie
- 6 min read
Is all the rain in Sydney and broader NSW costing you money?

From outbreaks of mould, to pothole damages and the humble cup of coffee, there are several ways that the recent heavy rain is costing everyday Australians more money.

The unprecedented heavy rain in 2022 has been relentless across the east coast of Australia. New South Wales and Queensland experienced catastrophic flooding from heavy rainfall in February and March, which the Insurance Council of Australia has declared an “insurance catastrophe”.

And Sydney has already experienced a year’s worth of annual rainfall as of April. This has resulted in flooding from rivers, such as the Nepean and the Hawkesbury, causing widespread damage and supply delays.

With meteorologists tipping more rain to come, it’s worth exploring all the ways that ongoing weather events - as a result of climate change - may be costing everyday Australians.

Cost of heavy rainfall in 2022

  • Damages and insurance claims

Storms and floods are considered a natural part of the NSW climate, but the increased frequency and severity of these events due to climate change is causing greater impacts to homes, businesses and the environment.

On average, flooding in NSW is expected to cost around $250 million per year in damages to property and infrastructure, such as roads and services, as well as health and wellbeing damages, emotional distress, injury and loss of life.

However, the total cost of claims from the recent floods and heavy rainfall in NSW and Queensland has grown to more than $1 billion. For example, in the Blue Mountains alone, council engineers estimated that the repair bill for landslips and road damage may climb over $100 million.

Roads in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and in Manly were some of the hardest hit by floods. Not only will this cost the taxpayer in terms of repairs, but it’s costing drivers in the form of car damage from potholes. 

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald, Sultan Awali, manager of Jax Tyres & Auto at Sutherland, said he was working on “at least 10 to 15 cars every day or two” for damage caused by potholes.

Following the floods, the NRMA noted some members have claimed thousands of dollars for damages caused to their vehicles by potholes, and it warned commuters in Sydney and Brisbane to be patient as repairs may take several weeks or months

  • Food prices and supply shortages

The impacts of climate change in exacerbating weather events like storms and flooding will continue to hurt agricultural production, as well as disrupt supply chains.

In the wake of the NSW and Queensland floods, damage to crops has adversely impacted supply, which has resulted in vegetable prices doubling, even tripling in some areas.

In an interview with The Australian, Ritchies IGA chief executive Fred Harrison, said: “We’re seeing this increase particularly in our vegetables.”

“Celery is up $5 a bunch. That’s unheard of for celery; normally it’s around half that price. We’re also finding all the berries – blueberries, raspberries – they’re all up at around $7,” he said.

A new report from Farmers for Climate Action suggests that it is not just Australia’s ability to produce food that is at threat, but the “inability to transport food to where it is needed”.

The high levels of rainfall in the last few months have created significant supply chain issues in Australia. Despite there being available supplies of food, the recent flooding events, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, meant that much of central and northern Australia experienced food shortages.

The report found that retailers are already feeling the impacts of higher costs, as well as shorter shelf lives and less reliability in the availability of types of food as a direct result of climate change.

Higher food prices mean a higher cost of living, and everyday Australians could begin to seriously feel the pinch in 2022. Particularly in a time where rising fuel prices are already causing financial stress, and predicted home loan interest rate hikes may see mortgage holders paying hundreds more in repayments.

  • Mould outbreaks

There are a few things that mould loves: damp and humid weather, and an absence of ventilation. All of which can result from excess moisture in the air caused by ongoing rainfall.

Mould removal can cost Australians anywhere from $500 - $4,000, according to GBAR Group, with the scope, type and location of the mould factoring into the cost. While homemade vinegar solutions are still a popular trick to treat some infections, larger-scale growth caused by excessive days of rainfall may need to be dealt with by professionals

But mould growth is more than an annoying chore to manage in your household. If not treated property, or if conditions allow it to flourish, it can have adverse impacts on your health.

This includes the risk of upper respiratory infection and asthma, which may be exacerbated when people are spending more time at home due to bad weather.

  • Cost of coffee

According to the Café Owners and Baristas Association of Australia, we may soon be paying upwards of $7 for a cup of coffee because of recent weather events around the world.

In an interview with the ABC, the president of Café Owners and Baristas Association Of Australia, David Parnham, said that rising transportation costs from shipping container shortages and unseasonal weather for growers is “driving up the price of green beans”.

“What's happening globally is there are shortages obviously from catastrophes that are happening in places like Brazil with frosts, and certain growing conditions in some of the coffee growing areas," Mr Parnham said.

Across Australia, cafes may struggle to absorb these increased overheads, particularly when paired with current inflation levels that have hiked the cost of other goods. In turn, the bad weather impacting the production of beans may see your morning coffee cost you a whopping $7.

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The increasing number and severity of storms and flooding may be directly linked to climate change, according to scientists and environmental experts.

While weeks of rainy days in a row may put a dampener on anyone’s mood, it’s worthwhile keeping in mind the real-world impacts of these events. Climate change will have significant impacts on more than our finances unless greater action is taken, such as policy measures and government interventions.

Disclaimer

This article is over two years old, last updated on April 13, 2022. While RateCity makes best efforts to update every important article regularly, the information in this piece may not be as relevant as it once was. Alternatively, please consider checking recent home insurance articles.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.