FLOODS ONE YEAR ON: Businesses look to future after ‘scary’ night of tidal surge

Denise and Andrew Speed, of Speedy's Ice Cream, returned trading after suffering a three month loss. EMN-140112-192605001
Denise and Andrew Speed, of Speedy's Ice Cream, returned trading after suffering a three month loss. EMN-140112-192605001

The scars are still evident from the storm surge that hit Skegness and the Lincolnshire coast last December.

But the wounds are healing including those at the seafront businesses in Skegness and the visitor centre at Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve which were among the worst affected.

Taking a look back to the night of December 5, The Standard spoke to some of the seafront kiosk businesses on Skegness Promenade, one year on.

Recalling that night, Andrew Speed and Wife Denise, of Speedy’s Sweets and Ice Creams, said that they had heard all the warnings and thought that the messages from the Environment Agency were adequate, however did not believe that what had happened 60 years previous was about to repeat itself.

“I just thought, okay, well it’s just another high tide,” said Andrew.

He explained how businesses perhaps did not take the necessary precautions, however he said no-one expected the severity or force of the surge that occurred.

“We put a few sandbags down around the kiosk prior to the surge, but they did not do anything,” said Denise.

Water rose to around three-and-a-half feet inside and around their kiosk. They tried to salvage some of their equipment but when the powerful surge came, it was too late. The day after, it was clear that everything inside, including all their equipment and goods from the kiosk, had been damaged.

Some of the businesses from the East Lindsey District Council-owned rented kiosks such as Speedy’s were lucky enough to have business insurance to cover damage to their stock and equipment from such a flood, however not all business close by did, only the council’s own insurance to cover damage to the internal and external structure of the buildings.

Speedy’s only re-opened three months later during the Easter holidays, missing out financially from the Christmas period, weekends and February half-term.

Speedy’s felt that the time of the year that the surge hit meant that it did not effect them during their busiest time, so the financial loss was not what it could have been.

Simon Monagham, of neighbouring kiosk Paradise, said: “That night was one of the scariest of my life.”

Some business had started bagging up sand bags and placing them around their kiosk shutters, so Simon joined them.

“One chap said to me, the storm surge is about an hour away, and at around 4.50pm, it was already around my feet, it was then that I knew we were in trouble,” he said.

By 5.10pm, the seawater had entered Simon’s kiosk and ‘everywhere was swimming’.

“On Friday morning it was clear I had lost everything,” he said.

Simon managed to re-open in February.

When Simon re-opened he thought ‘everything was sorted’, however using one of the dried-out fridges that still worked from the flood, salt that had entered the fridge had damaged it over time, which later caused a severe fire. “The fire completely finished the job off,” said Simon.

He again managed to re-open in Easter, and was one of the unfortunate businesses that did not have insurance to cover such a flood.

“Now, I have the proper insurance, but it comes at a high cost,” added Simon.

Both businesses praised the council, which helped to fit the kiosks with new shutters and assisted them to get back trading again.

“I hope it never happens again, but at least no-one was killed or injured,” said Simon.

Skegness Pier was another business affected and its ten-pin bowling alleys had become damaged beyond repair, having been submerged in flood water.

The visitor centre at Gibraltar Point was another site severely damaged and as previously reported in The Standard plans are afoot for a new £1 million building to replace the one currently there.