Climate change has been blamed for the increased number and intensity of natural disasters that we had been experiencing these past couple of decades. The increase in the overall average global temperature has produced devastating natural disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, and most recently, the 2015 New South Wales Flooding which took lives and destroyed a multitude of properties.

In the event of a natural disaster, the first priority of any government is to make sure that their citizens are safe and secured. Preventive efforts such as evacuating people from low lying areas in case of flooding should be done effectively. Rescue personnel should be on high alert to minimize if not prevent any casualties that may be incurred. Relief and rescue efforts should also be in place in the aftermath of any disaster. People who lost their homes should be relocated to somewhere safe and easily accessible to any relief efforts.

Land Surveyors’ Role in Natural Disasters

Land surveyors are responsible for establishing and dividing property lines to their rightful owners. During the aftermath of any natural disaster, there may be properties and buildings that may have been completely wiped out. When this happens, the demarcation lines that separate one property from another may have been destroyed as well. This will lead to confusion as to where the original establishments were previously located.

Re-establishing the original boundaries of a property can be done by the following:

  • Land surveyors can draw up the original location of a property line based on a master deed. It is therefore important for property owners to have a copy of a master deed. However, if the master deed has been destroyed due to the natural disaster, land surveyors can dig a copy up from the Land and Property Information office in the municipality.
  • If the affected property is a subdivision, land surveyors can draw the property lines from HOA documents or filed maps of the subdivision which they can obtain from the property manager of the association.
  • Although land titles are public property and copies of them can easily be obtained by people; it is the responsibility of the surveyors to interpret the titles and physically mark the demarcation lines of disputed boundaries.

Land Surveyors and Local Government

The role of land surveyors after a natural disaster will now become crucial since they are the ones that will do the initial outbound survey of the affected areas. The surveyors will also determine where and how the new construction will proceed and will relay this information to the developer who is tasked for rebuilding. The municipality governing the affected area will then perform their own survey of the area to make sure that all rebuilding and renovations that will be done are in order and are in accordance with the approved plans and standards. If the natural disaster causes people to be relocated in a specific area, it is the job of land surveyors to apportion the allotted area evenly to the people who will use it to build temporary shelters.

Scope of Land Surveyor’s Role

The role of land surveyors during a disaster is not only limited to surveying the boundaries of affected properties. Surveyors are also responsible for surveying the topography of the affected area to determine whether the elevations have been altered because of the disaster. It is important to conduct a topographic survey of the area to determine if the water or drainage has been altered. Land surveyors would also conduct surveys on whether or not the land is still suitable to be built on. With respect to flooding disasters, land surveyors can determine whether the area will be prone to further flooding. Surveyors can also guide property owners of any changes to the identified existing flood zones so that they can rebuild their properties accordingly.

Other natural disasters such as earthquakes, flooding and landslides can significantly alter the topography of an area. It is the job of land surveyors to assess whether a certain area is still safe to be built on. Land surveyors would also advice property owners whether to vacate the property permanently due to hazardous conditions brought about by the change in topography.

Land Surveying and Preventive Measures

With natural disasters becoming more and more unpredictable because of climate change, it is not surprising that you would see more and more areas belonging to the flood zone. In New South Wales for example, a lot of areas has been declared as flood zone areas. So if you live in the New South Wales area, Total Surveying Solutions is a dependable land surveying company that can help assess your property for you. They have the current information about flood zoning and can help you if you feel that your property is prone to flooding or being damaged by a natural disaster.