As Cyclone Amos makes its way to Samoa, businesses in Apia are bracing not just for hurricane force winds but also heavy flooding.
With this danger in mind, many shop owners in and around Apia do not only have to prepare their private houses for the cyclone, they also need to adopt conservation measures for their source of income, which is, in fact, their shops.
One of the affected shops is The Body Shop, not far from Apia’s downtown area.
The clothing store is often one of the first businesses to be hit at Saleufi and owner Rosie Ah Chong is not expecting anything different, unless the weather patterns change.
Having already boarded up the shop’s entrance with several sandbags yesterday, Ms. Ah Chong said they could only hope for the best.
“We do also have some plywood that we have got on standby, so we might use this to cover all of the shop’s windows,” she said.
She said the cyclone itself is not the hardest problem she and her employees will have to face.
“We can’t really do much about the flooding that will certainly occur in the context of the cyclone. The water comes through the side and no matter what we are going to do, this is not preventable.” Since the shop’s opening in Apia over 18 years ago, the flooding has gotten considerably worse. “It was not as bad as it is nowadays, but over time it did indeed become worse, with flooding being almost knee-deep these days. It surely depends on how bad the rainy season is, but it already happened to us like three times this year.”
To prevent any future damages caused by flooding, the shop already took precautions, which, unfortunately did not work out as planned by the staff.
“As you can see in front of the entrance and all around the whole building, we built a cement wall, but it doesn’t do much at all. The water still comes through, no matter what.”
The damage that comes with the flood mainly affects the building’s walls as well as the floor.
“We have been through this for so many years now, so we know when to lift everything in the shop up, but of course the process of cleaning up afterwards is a lot of work for us”.
In fact, the consequences of flooding lead to a huge capital loss for The Body Shop, because whenever such an incident occurs, the shop has to be closed. Ah Chong blames the government for not reacting as they should, concerning the damage that influences the water flow.
“They should prioritize this issue, because this happens right in the capital’s business district and it is getting out of control. I know they are aware of the problem, but they don’t seem likely to solve it the way they should.”