Firms adapt to area's flood vulnerability

By Marc Membrere 11 January 2021, 11:00AM

Businesses in Apia are adapting to the vulnerability of the area to flash floods by rearranging their shop shelves to avoid further loss of goods.

The owner of A-Mart and Tyre Master, Mingxia Sun, told the Samoa Observer that they are still trying to get back on their feet as the two recent flash flood events damaged their stock.

But she said the dilemma that her two companies currently face is that the damaged goods cannot be replaced immediately, as the COVID-19 pandemic has also made the shipping service from China erratic.

Consequently, Ms Sun said it has impacted her businesses as it is difficult to get space for a container from China, and estimating its arrival in Samoa has become a challenge as a trip that would normally take six weeks is now a two-month voyage.

When the first extreme weather event occurred on 18 December 2020, which saw large parts of Apia’s business centre inundated with flooding, Ms Sun told the Samoa Observer that the total cost of damage at that time was close to $200,000. 

But the company is unable to ascertain the cost after the Samoan capital was hit by another round of flash flooding last Wednesday according to the entrepreneur.

Prior to last Wednesday’s flooding, Ms Sun said they wanted to get the shop opened to capitalise on the Christmas sales, but their storage room was damaged. 

The Tyre Master premises was also affected when most of their machinery was damaged, which forced them to move machinery from their Fagalii branch to Fugalei, which meant that their Fagalii outlet could only sell tyres. 

Ms Sun added that every time it rains she gets worried, especially after her last experience following the two recent flooding events, though her staff moved their remaining stock to the higher shelves to avoid damage during flooding.

And while the recent flooding was not as bad as the one last December, the business’ employees had to work until 9am to move all stock to the second floor.

Asked if there is any damage to her main building, she said there is some damage but not to the main building, only to the building extension where the wooden floor was located.

Also not all the mud was cleaned out was they first had to clean the stock.

Days after the flooding, the business had a Christmas sale to help with the cash flow which Ms Sun revealed had good returns as well as support from the public who visited despite the mud.

Ms Sun has also hired extra staff to help including students who were on holidays and were looking for part-time jobs.

They assisted with the business’ ongoing clean up which according to her will take a while.

With the area prone to flooding, Ms Sun is contemplating relocating her businesses, though she is unsure as her current business premises is centrally located and attracts customers.

By Marc Membrere 11 January 2021, 11:00AM

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