Monday, 24 June 2013

Jewellery Store Washed Away in Flooding

Best wishes, and prayers go out to Wayne & Joanne Austen of High River, Alberta whose newly renovated store was nearly gutted by the flooding last week.  As the waters began to encroach upon downtown streets where Austen Jewellers is located, Wayne was attempting to “batten down the hatches,” when the first of the large picture windows in an adjacent gift-shop imploded.  He then helped a few ladies through the chest-high water to safety, during which time he had an acute revelation of how dangerous the forces of this rushing water could be.

Today the Austens remain in nearby Okotoks, awaiting the green light to return to their home, which thankfully appears to have sustained very little water infiltration.  Having lost three vehicles to the flooding, one has already been settled with insurance.  Still no word on what roll insurance will play in the building which plays host Austen Jewellers, a gift-shop, eye-wear store and other businesses; nor on whether his business insurance will cover the furniture and fixtures.  The initial news reports state that homeowners insurance would not normally cover over-land flooding, but Provincial and Federal disaster relief will be in-place shortly to help repair what insurance doesn’t.

If insurance and disaster-relief fails to help the Austens rebuild their store, can anyone out there suggest a way in which we as an industry can pull together to assist them?  I haven’t asked, but maybe some temporary showcases will be required until insurance and contractors are arranged.  Let me know if you have any thoughts.  I won’t try to “pass the hat,” or organize anything until we know more about available aid. 

For now, just keep them in your thoughts.  Send them an encouraging note if you know them.  Appreciate your warm and dry store, knowing that any one of us could have been affected by a natural disaster.

3rd Avenue West looking West - High River

3rd. Avenue West looking East - High River

Austen Jewellers is located where the beam is sticking out of the window

Bat-Sheba Gift Shop, adjacent to Austen Jewellers - where the first picture window let-go

Alberta Premier Allison Redford sees first-hand the incredible destruction

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