As Storm Desmond begins to calm, Lancashire’s small businesses are picking up the pieces after experiencing some of the heaviest rainfall on record, with many high street shops flooded and expected to be out of action until the new year.
It was much more than a wet weekend for the SME owners of Lancashire, with approximately 340mm of rainfall hitting the north-west county. In the north part of the region, around 50,000 people were left without electricity and mobile phone signals.
Emergency services were struggling to help suffering residents, with Lancashire ‘s fire department enduring flooding themselves. Over the weekend they had to operate out of a service station.
“Lancaster Fire Station is flooded,” said a spokesperson for the department. “Our firefighters at Lancaster are working out of Forton service station at the moment. And there are power outages at other fire stations, including Morecambe, and we’ve got generators set up there.”
Small business owners were some of the worst affected by the storm.
Speaking to The Guardian was James Howard, owner of Go Burrito takeaway. The heavy rainfall resulted in his kitchen being flooded, and doesn’t expect to be up and running again until 2016.
“You should have seen it out here,” said Howard. “It was like the zombie apocalypse. Drunk people were diving in the water, it was crazy. There was a rescue dinghy coming up North Road and cars were floating past.
It’s a disaster for us coming at what should be our busiest time of the year. Not only will we have to pay thousands to get our electrics sorted, but we’ve lost all of our stock because the fridges are off. It’s a nightmare.”
There is still more bad weather to come, with the Met Office predicting heavy rainfall and strong winds until Wednesday 9th December.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has been researching into the effects of flooding on small businesses, with national chairman John Allan advising SME owners to be as prepared as possible:
“Severe weather is currently hitting parts of the UK causing significant disruption for small businesses.
“In a recent FSB survey, it was found that two thirds of small businesses have been negatively affected by severe weather in the last three years. The financial cost of these severe weather events over this period was, on average, just under £7,000 for each affected business.
“We would urge small businesses at this time to clarify their risk of flooding, design a resilience plan and where available, sign up to the Flood Warnings Direct service,” concluded Allan.