Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), Victorian Government
Business FloodSafe – Rural Case Study
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Community Resilience Coordinator
Victoria State Emergency Service
Denise Carter, Owner/Proprietor Home Hotel: The Home Hotel is a traditional country hotel. We purchased it nine years ago as a family. We developed it heavily in food while we redecorated. We build to winning the award in 2008. That was an effort and we achieved what we set out to achieve in the first five years. Then, I think everyone knew that we had won the award – ok, now we are going to go into the next stage.
We were up to our knees in water within ten minutes. So within 45 minutes it had totally encased us.
Brad Carter, Manager/Son: It was cascading off steps. It was coming in holes in the walls. It was coming through windows. It was coming through the ceiling.
Denise: The water itself was dangerous – the movement of it, the speed, the pressure of it. A couple of our staff, we just told them to stay out of it, just to wait.
We just weren't prepared for it... not at all.
Brad: Not having a plan was probably a bit of a disaster in itself because you weren't sure where to start. After about an hour of being in the water we realised we shouldn't have any power in the building so we finally turned all that off... It's just the little things that you don't realise you have to do.
You couldn't understand unless you saw it how much damage that was done by just a massive amount of water.
Denise: The mud was actually worse than the water. The mud was a disaster.
Brad: The first day was just very emotional because you didn't know. You couldn't plan 20 steps forward you had to just do each bit as you went. So you weren't sure whether you were doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
Denise: We cleaned solidly for three months. Mud just kept oozing. Didn't matter where you looked, there just seemed to be mud and more mud. And the cost was very heavy.
Brad: It took us a long time to get the repairs to start. We had five different groups of people that had to make a decision before anyone could start any work. We had the insurance company with two different quotes from two different builders. We had engineers in that disagreed with our engineers. We had builders disagree with what damage was done and how it was done and when it was done.
90 percent of your time trying to sort out whether it's the insurance claim or whether it's to fix things and your business is suffering every day. You're not there running it, you're not the face of the business.
Denise: We had wonderful support from a lot of customers but there were those that we lost and there's probably those that we've never got back. The business was virtually closed for three months, from February through to May and then from May through to December 2011 for 85 percent. That's a lot of closure.
Brad: We probably employ around 20 people. Out of that there's probably 18 families with children... local community people. The casual ones you couldn't employ because you had no turnover to support them. If you had it to do it all again I would plan things a little bit differently. I would understand who to go to, who to ask.
I think it's taken two years of my life... and probably more.
Denise: My life has been totally taken up with, controlled by what happened through the circumstances of the flood.
Brad: It's taken toll on my family immensely. My mother and father have... I've probably watched them age ten, fifteen years in a year.
Denise: The lose of... nine years of hard work. Nine years of hard work. And when you just see it going in two and a half hours and you can't control it that's pretty devastating, yeah, I have my tears in quiet time.
I have been introduced to a booklet and it is a ten minute read put out through the SES as a toolkit for flood and damage. Everything I have read in that booklet makes sense to what happened to us.
Brad: It's definitely going to make it easier to do a plan.
Denise: To follow the prompts, yes.
Brad: It's common sense.
You need to have a plan and that plan will help set your goals to where you get back to, probably never the way you were before but get you back up on your feet and running.
Denise: Having a flood plan, it's the dollar factor in a small business. The damage that you do is pretty well irreparable if you're closed for a period of time.
It's been a long hard battle but we're into the next five year plan now.
I think we're aware and I think it's being aware that's important.
Male Voiceover: Floods cost Victorian communities an average of $465 million each year.
One of the simplest ways to manage the risk of flooding to your business is to create a Business FloodSafe Plan.
Every business should also have a basic emergency kit.
Being FloodSafe is not expensive or time consuming, but it may help save lives, prevent injury and help you reduce the financial damage floods can cause.
Go to ses.vic.gov.au/prepare and make your Business FloodSafe Plan now by following the helpful online prompts or download the SES Business FloodSafe ToolKit.