Flood-hit retailers have called for more money to be spent on preventative measures in order to limit potential future damage.
Retailer David Heritage, whose store in Barns Green, West Sussex, has been flooded twice in the past couple of months due to poor drainage, called for more funds to keep drains unblocked and rivers dredged.
“Better management of drains would have prevented the flooding in the first place,” he said. “We are not in a flood-risk area so it should never have occurred. On a positive note our insurance company NFU Mutual settled our £5,000 claim within a week and we don’t expect our premium to rise,” he added.
Martin Clark, of Lotts General Stores, Hambledon, Hampshire, said turnover had plunged by 50% in the past five weeks, with flood waters submerging local roads and affecting accessibility.
“Locals have been campaigning hard for an underground drainage culvert to be replaced, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears,” he said. “We’ve spoken at length to the loss adjusters and need to supply them with lots of photographs and figures. I’m hopeful we’ll recoup some of the losses.”
As Convenience Store went to press Cornish retailer Michelle Firminger was still waiting for loss adjusters to visit her Ponsanooth Village Stores, which was devastated on Christmas Eve by flood water from over-flowing drains. “Better drainage management would have prevented the flooding, especially as the nearby river didn’t even flood,” she said. Michelle is currently trading out of a temporary unit, donated by Truro Portable Buildings, until the damage is repaired. “The sheer volume of homes and businesses which have been affected means that everything is moving incredibly slowly,” she explained.
“Money needs to be spent to ensure this never happens again. Last week we had another torrential downpour and if the community hadn’t pulled together and gone out unblocking drains it would have happened all over again.”
However, she welcomed the government’s announcement that businesses affected would be given 100% rate relief for three months. David also said he was “thrilled” about the relief, which will be administered by local authorities who will be reimbursed by central government. Businesses affected by flooding will also be allowed to defer payment of VAT, PAYE and corporation tax for three months.
Counting the cost of the floods
The insurance bill for the damage caused by the storms over the Christmas 2013 and New Year period looks set to hit £426m, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Between 23 December 2013 and 8 January 2014 insurers dealt with 174,000 claims for damage to homes, businesses and cars.
More than 2,000 loss adjusters are also “ready and waiting” to assess the damage when the most recent bout of flood waters have subsided, and 1,800 staff have been reassigned to deal with customer queries, the ABI added.