In 2011, some of the most devastating flooding Australia has ever seen hit large parts of the state of Queensland. Following weeks of relentless rain dams were filled beyond capacity, rivers burst their banks, and the ground was saturated to a point where water could no longer be absorbed. On January 10th, a storm system passed over south-east Queensland and yet again dumped huge amounts of rain on already soaked land. Particularly concentrated in the Lockyer Valley, rivers rose above record heights and fields continued to flood. The water would eventually build into a deadly wall that headed with speed and force toward the small town of Grantham. Businesses were ruined, homes were destroyed, and, sadly, lives were lost.
Rising from the Flood: Moving the Town of Grantham
In the aftermath of this disaster, Lockyer Valley Mayor, Steve Jones, called upon Jamie Simmonds to lead the ‘Strengthening Grantham Project’. Jamie oversaw the effort of relocating much of the town to higher ground, ensuring the safety of the community from future flood events. Jamie and his team successfully managed the relocation by implementing an historic and Australian-first land swap initiative. The project designed and constructed a new estate of 120 lots which were offered to the flood devastated families of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley. It took only 11 months from the flood to see the first families moving into their new homes on higher ground - a timeline that has yet to be replicated anywhere else in the world. Jamie would continue to work with Mayor Jones in the years that followed the project, until Steve’s passing in 2016. It would then be three years until he would even think about Grantham or the project again. It wasn't until an American university professor, Nicholas Pinter, who is an expert in the field of managed retreat, invited Jamie to the States to offer advice on towns that had undergone relocations. Whilst touring these communities, Professor Pinter would convince Jamie to document his experiences from the successful Grantham project in order to assist other teams around the world who are undertaking, or planning to undertake, similar relocations. Jamie is an American born Australian citizen who now resides in Brisbane, Queensland. He was awarded an athletics scholarship to study at Pennsylvania State University where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Geo-Environmental Engineering. After years working in the public sector he now works as a National Development Manager for a private property investment firm.