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14 April 2011

Goodna shops are back but customers aren't

AFTER three months of furious rebuilding, the majority of flooded stores in Goodna's St Ives Shopping Centre have re-opened.

Co-owners of St Ives Fruit Market, Wissam Habchi and Naji Trad, have re-opened their shop at St Ives Shopping Centre after the January flood.

AFTER three months of furious rebuilding, the majority of flooded stores in Goodna's St Ives Shopping Centre have re-opened.

But the heartache for the centre's devastated shopkeepers continues.

Despite 75 per cent of the centre's shops opening their doors again this month, business is slow at St Ives and the bank accounts of some shopkeepers are racking up debt – fast.

To make matters worse, several shop owners have not even heard from their insurers.

"It's been terrible. Trade is very slow," Dave Rasmussen, owner of Prestige Aquariums and Pets, said.

"It's hard to keep trading with no customers. But hopefully it will pick up."

Mr Rasmussen lost 15 budgerigars, two cockatoos, several fish and hundreds of thousands of dollars when the Brisbane River rushed through his store in January.

"I thought about leaving the centre, but I think we will stay here now and wait it out," he said.

"The insurance companies are still being idiots. I haven't heard a thing from them."

An eight-metre rising wall of water reached the roof of St Ives and caused immense damage on January 12.

At the height of the floods, the centre became an aquarium with all manner of creatures washed through the 25 plus stores.

A bull shark was even spotted swimming through the car park by several locals, including St Ives' butcher Steve Bateman.

Mr Bateman's son Troy said the butchery had been trading at 40 per cent of its usual rate since re-opening in late March.

"We lost probably $200,000 because of the flood and it's been so slow that it's hard trying to make that back," Mr Bateman said.

"Our insurer has not given us anything. We really need the local shoppers to come back."

Soo Park, owner of A1 Factory Furniture, has also yet to hear from his insurer.

"They tell you nothing. They haven't returned my calls," Mr Park said.

The shopkeepers said they hoped the opening of Woolworths supermarket next week would lead to increased foot traffic.

"When Woolworths opens again it will become better," Naji Trad, co-owner of St Ives Fruit Market, said.

"It's quiet, but we hope in the next month people will return and the place will be crowded again like it used to be."

Recovery

Ipswich City Council said of the 257 businesses forced to shut due to the floods, 195, or more than 75 per cent, were back trading.

Ipswich Chamber of Commerce president Michael Munt said it was great to see flooded businesses re-opening but stressed they would need public support to keep going.

"All of us trying to spend locally is important," Mr Munt said.

More Ipswich News: www.QT.com.au

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