A number of businesses operators in Road Town – including one whose goods are not insured – set up tents at their store entrances on the weekend as they made another frantic attempt to sell shoes and clothes that were soiled a week ago during a massive flood associated with a tropical wave.
Amid the rush to salvage what he could, one businessman expressed dissatisfaction with what he considers to be the inadequate warning about the tropical wave, adding that he does not think the government-owned Department of Disaster Management (DDM) did a good job in assessing the tropical wave or communicating it to the public.
The territory does not have an official meteorological office, but the DDM gathers and disseminates weather-related information from a number of professional sources – some contracted.
“We don’t live in days when we don’t have computer – we don’t have equipment. We have everything right now. People know what’s happening within days – five days. We don’t want days to know what’s happening, we need at least four hours to let us know how bad the weather is. Give me a warning let me protect myself,” said the businessman who – like many others – are afraid to give their names.
He further told BVI News Online that, due to certain circumstances, his goods are not insured. In fact, he had just started the necessary paperwork.
With the tropical wave causing his businesses to be flooded, he has lost at least $27,000 worth of goods.
“I have a lot of losses. My store is empty right now. I have different businesses. Some of the business lost $12,000 [and] some lost $15,000. You cannot in one day know how much is the damage and how much is lost because each box is a different style, different colour, different things. You are not going to know in one minute how much exactly your damage is – especially when you don’t have insurance.”
The businessman added that he did a lot of shopping recently in anticipation of the Emancipation Festival.
“It wasn’t a good festival for nobody – rain, business slow, no time to rest. So hopefully next time we will be prepared more [for the bad weather]. The water come into the store swiftly. I came to try to protect the business, but the vehicles passing, pushing the water more into the business. What you could do about it? It is near a road? We didn’t expect it to be so bad,” the distraught businessman further told BVI News Online.
Huge drop in prices
He, as well as about four other merchants, were busy on Saturday (August 12) either selling or giving away damaged goods.
At the Fatima store across from RiteWay on Flemming Street, a security guard closely watched a huge pile of flood-affected goods left at the entrance of the store.
There were massive discounts on soiled shoes and pants under a tent outside Said Department Store – among others along Waterfront Drive. At Said, some trousers that once cost $30 were being sold for $5.
A chef, who bought several pairs of trousers, expressed glee for the sale, adding that he would leave the items in soapy water for a few days in order to get rid of the mud stains.
At People’s Shoes Store on Flemming Street, a huge crowd again rummaged through piles of footwear on the weekend – often preventing the free flow of traffic.
One man from Hannah who struggled from the tent outside the store with two relatively large garbage bags packed with shoes threatened to do harm if his image is captured on camera.
A truck eventually appeared at 7:30pm to pick up the remainder of the shoes, left scattered on the ground.
“How you allow the truck to come for the shoes so early when people still taking up shoes?” said a hairdresser who works upstairs People’s Shoes Store.
The store owner, who did not respond to the concern about the truck driver’s timing, declined to be interviewed.
A senior government employee, formerly employed to the Ministry of Finance, watched the shoes-rush in disgust. He told BVI News Online that the situation is a disgrace to the territory.
“The store insured, so all they should do is take the shoes to the needy. This [crowd of people outside the store] is disgraceful to the BVI,” he said. Most shoppers who spoke with BVI News Online did not share his sentiment.
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