Flood update: Counting the cost for one uninsured business

    Any Occasion

    Helen Downes and her business partner Kelly Nash witnessed the devastation of their wedding shop Any Occasion as the floodwater destroyed stock worth thousands of pounds.

    As their location, opposite The Pantiles, is classed high risk for flooding, the pair have been unable to get flood insurance for several years, so all the costs for repairs and restocking fell on the boutique itself.

    Mrs Nash had previously estimated the damage to be at least £50,000.

    Mrs Downes said: “We are back in business but it has affected us greatly. At the moment we can only use one fitting room, the other three are unusable.

    “It took two weeks just to get the phone lines reconnected so we couldn’t accept any payments.”

    She is adamant neglect of the drainage system by Kent County Council (KCC) had made matters far worse than they might have been.

    She said: “It was not even the heaviest rainfall we have seen. But the next day we sat here and watched them taking tarmac out of the drains. It took them 15 minutes of hammering and drilling to do so.”

    Although KCC has previously told the Times recent roadworks in the area had not caused drains to be blocked with tarmac, Mrs Downes said she had taken pictures of drains being cleared. “It was definitely tarmac,” she said.

    But things could have been far worse, she said, adding: “We were really thankful for builders who came over from the (former) Brew House Hotel to move our carpet which we couldn’t lift.

    “It took six of them to do so but if they hadn’t, even more stock would have been lost.”