Long Recovery from Brisbane Floods

Brisbane, Queensland

Queensland peak advocacy organisation and several Brisbane and northern NSW bike stores are bouncing back from this month’s severe flood, with some of them still uncertain when they will be able to return to their premises.

Bicycle Queensland (BQ) and bike store NRG Cycles, both located in the Brisbane suburb of Milton, are continuing to liaise with their respective landlords to ascertain when they might start to prepare for a return, a month after unprecedented rainfall levels inundated a large portion of the city centre.

Wilston store EveryBody e-Bikes are in a similar predicament after flooding caused significant damage to its premises. However, it has been trading in a number of pop-up locations and is currently operating in Lutwyche.

BQ is awaiting a full rebuild of its premises before the cycling advocacy group can return to its headquarters.

While the group benefited from a strong legion of members and other volunteers to help remove items before flooding hit the headquarters, the building and a lot of BQ’s equipment suffered “devastating” damage.

Flooding at the EveryBody e-Bikes store in Wilston peaked at almost 4m.
Flooding at the EveryBody e-Bikes store in Wilston peaked at almost 4m. Photo: EveryBody e-Bikes.

“All our IT equipment and many of our pictures were destroyed,” BQ CEO Rebecca Randazzo said.

“We managed to rescue a few items of memorabilia, including breaking some jerseys out of their frames. Some of them will need a good dry clean but hopefully, they can be salvaged.

“It’s been a devastating impact on our business.”

Rebecca said it was fortunate BQ had already converted a lot of its processes and records to online. It was also lucky COVID measures had taught BQ to be agile in its operations.

“Staff are back to working remotely until the office is fit for purpose again and we are continuing to run our meetings online,” she added.

“We’re getting good at pivoting quickly.”

Significant Delays

Rebecca said while the building’s owners have been fantastic at liaising with BQ over the recovery process, there would be a significant delay with repairs.

“Building supplies and labour are going to be the key,” she explained.

“Pre-COVID it might have been a four-week turnaround but we’re now looking at about three months. We’re hoping to get an update in a fortnight.”

While disruptions to BQ services and operations had been minimised by online options, the organisation was missing the opportunity to engage face to face with its members.

BQ is awaiting confirmation of whether its insurance will cover the damage before it knows the financial implications of the disaster.

Damage to Stores

NRG is part of the Milton Village shopping centre and store owner Heath Porter said he had to wait until repair work at the centre reached a certain stage before his team could start to prepare the store for reopening.

“As of today, they still need to get the electricity restored to the whole building are there are still walls to be ripped out. With builders being so busy, hardly any of the walls have been put back in,” Heath said.

Once that is resolved, he expects it will be another two weeks or so before the store is ready to resume trading.

Nearby stores Epic Cycles in Paddington and Electric Bikes Brisbane, in Milton, were also hit by the flooding but were operational again in the second week of March thanks to clean-up campaigns by staff and volunteers.

A State Emergency Service crew outside the Epic Cycles store.
A State Emergency Service crew outside the Epic Cycles store. Photo: Epic Cycles.

Little Time to Prepare

Heath said he had 1.8m-deep floodwater flowing through the store on Saturday 26th February, after very little warning to prepare.

“Fortunately we work on Saturdays, so we were one of very few stores in the whole centre moving stuff up and out of the way,” he said.

“We were able to move a lot of stock up onto the mezzanine but our workshop was hit hard. Our workshop tools and parts, as well as electrical stuff like lights and computers, were placed up higher but got knocked off their perch.”

NRG, like other neighbouring businesses, also faces uncertainty over insurance, with insurance companies refusing to offer flood coverage in the Milton area after it was damaged by flooding in 2011.

Companies affected by this year’s flood are now seeking a ruling on whether this incident would be categorised as flood damage or storm damage.

In the meantime, NRG has sought financial assistance for its staff through the Federal Government’s Disaster Recovery Allowance, offering income assistance for up to 13 weeks. That application is pending approval.

Heath and his team have only been in Milton Village since July, after relocating from the Brisbane CBD because their building was slated for demolition.

It has been a tumultuous period for Heath, who bought the 30-year-old business in 2017 and relocated it from Brisbane suburb Jindalee to the CBD.

Everybody e-Bikes, which previously operated as Blind Freddys Electric Bikes, has approximately 4m of water through its premises.

Owner Andrea Herklots said the business – which specialises in e-bike mobility solutions, including bikes for people with disability – was fortunate a significant number of its special needs bikes were being stored at the company’s warehouse, which was unaffected by the flooding.

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