'Wartime spirit' as residents save shops from flash floods
- Credit: Claire Sparkles
A record shop owner facing ruinous damage worth tens of thousands of pounds from flash floods says customers armed with buckets summoned the “wartime spirit” to help save his store.
Ben Shallcross, owner of Audio Gold in Park Road, said he was “very moved” by the response of Muswell Hill and Crouch End as residents put “all hands on deck” to tackle the “six-inch deep river” surging through the hi-fi and music store on Monday (July 12).
As a thank you, and to prevent thousands of records going to waste, Ben said he would hold a free giveaway of stock left damaged and unsellable by the floods, but that is still usable.
Ben told the Ham&High: “Customers were picking up buckets and we had a chain of people bucketing water out of the shop and out the back door.
“Everyone was quite traumatised at the end of the day, particular for a shop like ours that's full of such beautiful things, seeing the water washing through.
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“A high-end electronic shop isn't a great place for a river.”
Park Road, at the foot of Muswell Hill, has been victim of flash flooding in previous years – but Ben said this time was incomparable.
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“It's never been like this, this is very different,” the owner said.
“I’ve been here for twenty years. It’s lapped at the door two or three times.
“Despite the door being closed, and we've got a big storm door on the front of the shop, despite it being closed and the inner door being barricaded, it was still running through the shop like a river.”
Photos and videos from Park Road showed those on the street wading through knee-deep floods.
Audio Gold was forced to hoist its most valuable items such as loudspeakers onto stilts to raise them above water level.
But despite this huge damage and the warnings of previous years, Ben said there was too little action being taken by the authorities to tackle the area’s historic problem.
“This is a very known problem in this little stretch,” he said. “Whenever flash flooding it occurs here... it’s climate change and it’s happening more often.
“What used to be a one in ten year event is now an annual event.”
Despite conceding he and his team had been left in a “dazed” and “confused” state, Ben vowed to open back up as soon as possible.
“There was a real sort of wartime sprit yesterday and lots of enormous offers of help and expressions of shock and grief really,” he said.
“We're very proud to say our shop is enormously widely loved, but the loss of business is going to be as significant as the loss of goods.
“We’ve got vast bins of records, squillions of pounds worth of records messed up. It’s awful.
“It’s really horrible but not it’s not the end of our business. What we were very struck with yesterday, and we have been ever since, is the absolute stream of positivity coming from neighbours and friends.
“Our Instagram feed has thousands and thousands of really lovely messages, it's been incredible.
“We've been really moved by so many people, and that's a big thing.”
Cllr Scott Emery (Lib Dem, Muswell Hill) called the floods “devastating” for residents and businesses, some of which have only just reopened following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
“Questions need to be asked about the state of gullies on Park Road, which were raised with the council months ago as a possible problem,” Cllr Emery said.
“I hope the council will support all those affected however they can and put measures in place to minimise the risk of this happening again.”
A spokesperson for Thames Water said: “Between 5pm and 10pm on Monday we received almost five times the normal number of calls from our customers.
“Where flooding was impacting our sewer network, our engineers responded as quickly as they could, but while our pipes are designed to cope with most storms, yesterday’s rainfall was so severe the system filled up very quickly.
“In the majority of places the water drained away once the flash storm had passed.
“During wet weather we work closely with the other agencies with whom we share responsibility for flooding, including local authorities, highways authorities and the Environment Agency, to make sure those who need help get it.”
Cllr Peray Ahmet, Haringey Council leader, said her sympathies were with those affected, adding that the town hall had taken "immediate action" and "put strong measures in place" to clear standing water.
She said the issue was simply that sewers could not cope with the volume of water in such a short period, and said: “We continue to work with residents and businesses who have seen their properties affected and our officers have been attending a number of locations throughout the day to offer support."
Cllr Ahmet added Haringey was to invest £870k this year on flood management schemes.