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Record rains lead to flooding in Bukit Timah Plaza, causing some damage to shops and goods

SINGAPORE — At least two shops at Bukit Timah Plaza suffered extensive damage to goods and several were left with damaged floors on Tuesday (Aug 24) after the shopping centre's basements were hit by flooding on a day of record-high rainfall across the country.

Record rains lead to flooding in Bukit Timah Plaza, causing some damage to shops and goods

A shopkeeper at Bukit Timah Plaza uses a blower to dry carpets affected by flood waters that entered the shopping centre's basement area on Aug 24, 2021.

  • The basement of Bukit Timah Plaza was affected by rainwater on Tuesday morning
  • Water had entered from the basement one entrance following a heavy downpour
  • One shop estimated damage running into tens of thousands of dollars
  • Some shops are unsure of what precautions to take, while one is considering moving to a higher floor in future

 

SINGAPORE — At least two shops at Bukit Timah Plaza suffered extensive damage to goods and several were left with damaged floors on Tuesday (Aug 24) after the shopping centre's  basements were hit by flooding on a day of record-high rainfall across the country.

Mrs Syarah Shalla, whose husband owns two shops on basement level one, said that the flooring of both shops had been damaged when she opened the shutters a little after 11am following heavy rain earlier in the morning.

One of their shops, which sells mostly carpets and Turkish lamps, had about 30 carpets damaged by water, she said.

Mrs Shalla, 46, estimated that the cost of the damage to the carpets could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“I read about the flooding and rainfall in the news over the last couple of days, but I never expected the mall to be flooded, too.” 

Rainfall hit a 38-year record high on Tuesday, with more rain falling over parts of the island than any other day in August since 1983, the National Environment Agency said.

Flash floods were also reported in various areas, including along Bukit Timah Road near King Albert Park, Eng Kong and Toh Yi.

A video of water pooling at the basements of the four-storey Bukit Timah Plaza near Beauty World MRT Station made their rounds on social media on Tuesday.

An entrance to Bukit Timah Plaza photographed on Aug 24, 2021 after floodwaters had subsided. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

Shopkeepers at Bukit Timah Plaza said that the rain water had entered the premises through the entrance on basement level one facing the Anak Bukit flyover. The water had also affected parts of basement level two.

The floors of the mall were dry when TODAY arrived at around 3pm, although some shopkeepers could be seen clearing out their goods or drying them due to the morning floods.

The escalators linking the basements were also not functioning and a maintenance worker told TODAY that the control room for the escalator was filled with water and it might take up to three weeks to fix.

FABRIC SHOPS HARDER HIT

Shops selling fabric goods such as clothes and carpets appeared to be the hardest hit, with three shops saying that it was likely that some of their wares were too damaged to be sold.

Mr Farhad Sorouri, the owner of a carpet shop on basement level one, said that he had rushed down to his shop at around 10am on Tuesday after the neighbouring florist alerted him to the situation.

“I didn’t think this would happen in a shopping centre,” Mr Farhad said, adding that this was the first time in more than 20 years that such an incident had occurred.

“We had no (cleaning) equipment. We had to beg the cleaners to help us,” the 58-year-old recounted.

When TODAY arrived, Mr Farhad was drying a stack of carpets outside the store. A blower was also aimed at another stack of carpets within the store. The store’s flooring was also lined with cardboard as its carpeted flooring was damp.

Water had risen about ankle-high within the unit, damaging about 80 of his store’s handmade Persian carpets, Mr Farhad said, adding that the carpets were priced between S$500 and S$6,500.

He was still assessing the total cost of the damage, which will also include the cost of drying and cleaning them. Not all the carpets can be salvaged as the colour would have run, he added.

Over at Fashion Loft, a boutique located on the same floor, none of the goods were wet from the rainwater.

Its owner, Ms Dione Yap, said that she had wrapped her store’s clothes with plastic because the shop had started renovation works for its flooring the night before.

On the flipside, the 49-year-old said that her contractor is reassessing the cost of reflooring her store, which had originally cost S$2,000.

The back half of the shop’s floor, which had been renovated the night before, was now damaged by the rainwater. The front half of the shop’s floor was due to be re-floored on Tuesday night, but will now be delayed because it needs to thoroughly dry first.

Ms Yap added that the shopkeeper from the neighbouring hair salon had helped her to buy towels and sponge the floor of her store before she arrived at around 3pm.

She then spent another hour mopping up the water from the shop's floor.

NOT ALL SHOPKEEPERS SURPRISED BY FLOODS

Five of the shopkeepers who spoke to TODAY said that they were surprised by the floods, but at least one said that he was not.

Mr Ridzwan Chong, the owner of a nasi lemak shop near the entrance of basement level one, said: “I’m not shocked. Singapore is like that.”

The 68-year-old, whose shop has been in the building for close to two decades, added that the Bukit Timah area is prone to floods.

His workers had to stop cooking at 9am to clear out the water from the shop and they were able to resume cooking after 11am.

There was no damage to his shop, although Mr Ridzwan estimated that he had lost half of his usual 200 customers for the day.

TENANTS MULL THEIR NEXT STEP

With more rainfall expected for the rest of this month, some shopkeepers said that they were unsure about how they could protect their goods.

Mrs Shalla said: “I don’t know how to take precautions except to seal the gap between the shutter and the floor, but if there’s a big flood, it’s not going to be effective.” 

Mr Farhad said that he had yet to think about precautions and that his “primary intention” is to save his carpets.

Both added that they are waiting to hear from the mall’s management on precautions they can take and for any advice on how to claim reimbursement for damaged goods.

Mr Luc, the owner of a craft beer shop on basement level one who wanted to be known only by his first name, said that he will buy plastic boxes for storing his goods. He may also shift to a unit on a higher level after his lease ends in one-and-a-half years.

TODAY has reached out to the management of Bukit Timah Plaza for comment.

Related topics

rain flood Bukit Timah Plaza retail

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