On the weekend of Sunday 5th June, most of us were aware of the wild weather that swept through the Macarthur Area. The lucky ones were rugged up inside their homes with the heating on, watching the heavy rain and gutters over flow through their windows. Many people started to realise by late Sunday afternoon that the heavy rain was causing hazardous floods in many areas, with pictures posted on social media of flood waters rising at Campbelltown Station, Mount Annan and Leppington. But it was the images of the high water levels sweeping through the main street of Picton that alarmed the staff at Coutts Solicitors and Conveyancers, as this is the location of our Picton legal office .
Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers is located on the corner of Argyle Street and Cliffe Street, very close to where these photos were taken. We all felt sick at the sight of the images of the floods, but at this stage had no idea of the damage caused to our offices.
On Monday morning none of the staff were able to attend the Picton office. All the roads were closed due to the high flood waters, so all Picton staff were relocated to the Narellan Office to work. Throughout the day we heard reports of neighbouring businesses front windows being smashed by the rush of flood water and losing all of their stock. We could could not view the damage to our office, until the flood waters dispersed and roads to the area were reopened. However we still had hope, we are on the higher end of the street, a significant distance away from the burst river banks.
It was Monday afternoon by the time we had access to our Picton legal office. The damage was immediately evident, with a brown sludge being left on the floor of the entire office (under the sludge are glossy white tiles). The smell was also horrendous, the whole office smelt like a sewer and the brown sludge looked like sewage, it was heartbreaking.
The damage was clear in every room, computers, files, printers and stationary all clearly showing the water damage. We established by the water marks on the wall that the water levels had submerged the office 30 - 40 cm. The money and time needed to repair the office had yet to be calculated, but at this stage we realised the damage was worse than we initially thought. We had not been as lucky as we had hoped on Monday.
After the devastating news of our own damage we began to hear unsettling rumours of Picton businesses insurance claims being rejected. Many insurance companies had found a loophole to avoid paying out for damages. We watched in dismay as fellow Picton business owners coped with the crushing news, many had been operating their whole life in the area and were now out of business as a result. We joined the community in their reaction of anger and disgust at theinsurance companies tactics to save their money..... We were yet to be assessed by our insurance company, so the future of our office remained uncertain.
Thanks to our Insurance Broker
Luckily, we had a wonderful insurance broker (Jared from Ausure) who was communicating with our insurance company. He organised for an assessor to come out to our office and view the damage. We were fortunate enough that our Insurance company decided we were able to put in a claim for the damage. It was a huge relief, our Picton legal office would reopen, but we still had a long road ahead with the clean up and replacement of our equipment to take weeks.
The aftermath of the Picton floods resulted in many businesses on the main street shutting down for weeks, some had to close their doors indefinitely. When we did go to Picton, it looked like a ghost town, we were worried about the future of business and concerned if the town would recover.
Back in business for Picton!
Now, nearly 3 months after the devastating floods, their is a light at the end of the tunnel. Community events have been held to raise money for the businesses and residents that were badly effected by the natural disaster. Local businesses offered a helping hand to those in need with, discounts and charity donations. As much as the Picton floods caused so much trauma and stress to its residents, it has been amazing to see the generosity and caring spirit of people in the whole of the Sydney area. All the donations and charity to the Picton flood relief have helped Picton get back in business.
The Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers Picton legal office is coming close to finishing its repair and is set to reopen on or before the 31st August. We are extremely thankful for those people who contributed to its refurbishment and helped us to get back to business. We are looking forward to reopening our doors and being able to provide the Picton residents with legal services once again.
Please remember to "Go Local" when choosing a service or purchasing products, your support will help Picton businesses to thrive once again.