Isle of Man News - POSTED Mon 06-01-2014

Flood aid 'a shambles', say shopkeepers

by Joanne Clague

Flood aid 'a shambles', say shopkeepers - picture

The highways authority has come under fire, with Ramsey shopkeepers claiming not enough sandbags were distributed ahead of Friday’s tidal surge.
Businesses are now counting the cost of the storm and have spent the weekend clearing up, but face more stormy weather and a risk of flooding later today.
Michael Skelly, pictured (left) with Cyril Kelly outside their adjoining shops in Parliament Street, Ramsey, says the cost of the floodwater damage to his business, Lezayre Landscapes, will total at least £20,000.
Along with fellow shopkeepers, he claims not enough notice was given of the tidal surge and that so few sandbags were delivered that they were being stolen from doorways.
Mr Skelly said: ‘It was a total shambles. One pallet of sandbags had been delivered and people were just grabbing at them. When we asked for more we were told there were some at the northern amenity centre but then discovered that had been closed because of the weather conditions. By then the water was seeping in. What amazes me is that we were listening to the national television and radio telling us about storm warnings up and down the country but nobody was giving us any advice.
‘There should have been better consultation with the shopkeepers, a bi t of guidance. Sandbags should have been going up at the ends of the roads and lanes. Just closing the roads didn’t make any difference.’
Mr Kelly opened his shop, Winnie Kelly’s dress agency just eight weeks ago. He said: ‘Most of the stock is fine. The carpets are ruined. We had put sandbags out but came back to find two layers had been pinched because there just weren’t enough to go around. Like most of the shopkeepers we had a letter warning us there would be a flood shoved through the letterbox at 10am on Friday morning. There was no help for us. Where is the community spirit?’
Rita Hayward from Unique Boutique said shopkeepers rallied together over the weekend but there had been a lack of support from the authorities.
She said: ‘The lack of sandbags was the main problem. My issue is with whoever was in charge of the sandbags. They did not do their job. Somebody needs to stand up and be counted.’
Meanwhile, severe gales are predicted for later this afternoon and disruption to ferry services continue, with this morning's Steam Packet sailing to Heysham cancelled.


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