Small businesses in NSW forced to shut amid flood evacuation orders


Cafe at Lewers in Penrith, Sydney. Source: Facebook.

Small businesses along the country’s east coast are facing significant revenue losses amid persistent flooding that is expected to stretch well into next week.

Sydney’s Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers flooded following a surge in heavy rainfall, prompting the NSW State Emergency Service to issue evacuation orders in Western Sydney and lower parts of the Blue Mountains over the weekend.

On Sunday, businesses along the Nepean River in Penrith were forced to evacuate when the water rose above ground level and reached low-lying residential and commercial areas.

Steve Grant, owner of Cafe at Lewers, located in Penrith Regional Gallery on River Road shut his store mid-service on Sunday.

“We had to close service halfway through on Sunday, because the water levels were getting too risky and I didn’t want to put my staff or customers at risk,” Grant tells SmartCompany.

The cafe, which opens for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, remained closed for the rest of the day and all of Monday.

While Grant is thankful the floods didn’t cause any water damage, he says he lost a substantial amount of revenue due to stopping service on a peak trading day.

“Obviously, Sunday being one of our busiest days, financially it has hurt us a bit. We probably lost between $8,000 to $10,000,” he says.

The flooding across NSW and now parts of south-east Queensland has prompted thousands of personal and business insurance claims.

On Monday, the Insurance Council of Australia declared an “insurance catastrophe” after insurance providers received more than 5,000 claims in a matter of days.

The Council said in a statement yesterday it has now activated its disaster hotline and policy holders should call 1800 734 621 if they have an enquiry.

Grant plans to contact his insurance company to find out what he is entitled to, however, he doubts he will be covered for a loss of trading.

“Unfortunately, it’s just something that we’re going to have to cop on the chin,” he says.

When asked whether he is concerned about extreme weather events, including floods and bushfires, continuing to affect his business, Grant says he hopes not.

“We’ve had a trio of bad runs,” he says.

“We were affected by the bushfires over the summer period of 2019 to 2020. It was probably the quietest summer we’ve ever had.”

Grant says a couple months after the bushfires subsided, the pandemic emerged and he had to “juggle things to keep the business afloat” last year.

“A lot of the community has really supported us over the past 12 months, so I’m confident that over the next few weeks that community support will help,” he says.

Federal and state governments, and the big four banks, have announced a number of support measures for businesses affected by the floods. More information is available in this article.


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