March 10 2014 Latest news:
Monday, February 24, 2014
A scuba diving firm that faced permanent closure after its Lowestoft shop was hit by the tidal surge in December has reopened in new premises.
An estimated £80,000 of damage was caused to stock and equipment at Learn Scuba when its shop in London Road South was flooded on December 6.
The company reopened on Saturday in Nirvana Fitness on South Lowestoft Industrial Estate and held a party to celebrate.
Owner Andy Rose said the last two months had been stressful and the experience had been made worse by the fact his insurer had initially refused to cover him, stating that the property was in a high flood risk area and the policy was invalid.
He said he faced the real prospect of closing the business for good and was forced to use his own funds to get it back up and running.
It was only after Mr Rose consulted a solicitor that his insurer agreed to look in to his claim, sending a loss adjuster to the flood-damaged shop for the first time on February 13.
However, the father-of-five from Pakefield still does not know whether his claim will be successful.
Mr Rose, who was leading a dive trip overseas when the tidal surge hit, said: “I was faced with: What do I try to save? I tried to salvage whatever I could.
“I had to make a decision about whether to carry on with the business or not.”
Mr Rose, who launched Learn Scuba in 1994, said more could have been saved if staff were warned of the flood risk on the day of the tidal surge.
He said dive master Hayley Arnold, who lived above the shop in London Road South, raised the alarm when she found an evacuation notice in her letter box later that evening.
However, by then it was too late to move the stock and equipment and much of it was damaged by the flood waters.
Despite the trauma of the last two months, Mr Rose said moving to Nirvana Fitness had a number of benefits.
The centre’s shallow pool means Learn Scuba can now host children’s parties and offer PADI Seal Team training for divers aged between eight and 10.
The location is also easier to access by car and there is a bar for customers to relax in after lessons.
Mr Rose said: “It has been hard but we are very positive about what we have got here. Nirvana staff have been fantastic and there are lots of people that are very enthusiastic about what were are doing here.”
Learn Scuba offers dive training - from taster sessions and beginners courses to instructor level.
Have you got a Lowestoft story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org