Southend Floods: The rather wet elephant in the flooded room…

Southend’s local businesses were yet again the ones to suffer following another devastating flash flood last Friday night. According to the local fire service, they received over 100 calls during the two hour period of extreme downpour on the 19th September 2014, and all along the seafront the fire brigade were pumping out water.

The Happidrome arcade on Southend seafront was yet again affected, having only just re-opened in April following the extreme flood last August that cost the owners £100,000 to repair the damage. Owner of Happidrome arcade, Martin Richardson reported, “It came through the back, the side, it came through the wall, it came through the roof, the main drains. At least four of the arcades on the promenade have suffered. It’s going to be a long while before we’re open”.

Happidrome Arcade Southend Flood

Blame has been put on the design of Southend’s City Beach, a popular tourist spot in the Summer, and anger has been expressed toward Martin Terry of Southend Council that stated on national TV that the seafront design is not the cause of the continued flooding problems that have only been a major issue in the past couple of years since the seafront’s Marine Parade was redesigned to be the shared space that it is today.

But with focus on protecting Southend’s Golden Mile and seafront tourist attractions, sadly other small businesses elsewhere in Southend were ignored and left to deal with the disaster alone.

Southend Road Floods 2014

Pictured above: Fairfax Drive flooded as local café Lunch In A Bag desperately try to use customer-donated towels as flood defence barriers. Pictured left is Shaftesbury Avenue and Victoria Road (courtesy of @PrettyDemented) closed off by residents.

According to Paul Crane, owner of Westcliff’s Lunch In A Bag Café, their shop on Fairfax Drive became flooded from up to 2 feet of water flowing down Inverness Avenue and Silverdale Avenue due to the council’s failure to clean the drain out regularly.

“I noticed on the Council’s Twitter feed that they announced that they were out during the night offering sandbags to businesses in Victoria Road, but nobody came down to see us. We have asked the council if they can supply us with some sandbags that we can store at our cafe so we are prepared next time it happens because it certainly will again.”

“What was even more disgusting was that the Police shut off Victoria Ave due to flood water and diverted ALL traffic down Fairfax Drive which should have been closed in itself as we were up to two feet of water in parts.”

Paul Crane then goes on to state that, thanks to a bit of luck, a passing Fire Brigade officer managed to slow the traffic down before making a call to let the police know that no more vehicles should be diverted to Fairfax Drive. With no more cars speeding past causing tidal waves into the shop, they were able to mop up and repair some of the damages with the help of some amazing customers.

Southend Kursaal Flooded

Pictured above is the view from Michaella Philpot’s car window, looking toward the completely flooded surroundings of the Kursaal.

Other businesses that were affected include the Pearl Dragon restaurant (whose roof collapsed under the heavy rain water), Sealife Adventure (who had the fire service pump water out of the centre), and Cornucopia Pub (who had to have three people who were trapped in the cellar rescued by the fire crews). But the real number of affected businesses is bound to be overwhelmingly high, beyond what will most likely be publicised in the papers. And I’m not just talking about the ones along the seafront.

Southend-based Ashburnham Insurance helped local businesses out last year with their business insurance claims, following last August’s flood, and undoubtedly will be busy again this year. Steve Smith from Ashburnham Insurance said, “Being the middle of summer, the town was living up to its ‘Sunny Southend’ reputation. This was until torrential rain arrived at the weekend and caused major flooding to the area. This goes to show the importance of insurance cover even when you feel there is little or no need for it. You never know what can happen from one day to the next”.

Westcliff Station flooded

Check out photos of lightning in Southend!