Edinburgh retailer ‘heartbroken’ as floods strike for second time in eight months

Napier Bathrooms in Edinburgh has been flooded for the second time in eight months during the flash floods on Sunday. The showroom was damaged in October after a similar deluge of rainfall, and it has only just reopened after an extensive restoration and refurbishment.

The 30-minute downpour left Napier Bathrooms and several parts of Edinburgh flooded and in need of extensive repairs and clean-up.

Founder Johnny Bacigalupo said: “Just as we have completed our work on the most beautiful showroom, we are absolutely flooded again. It is heartbreaking.”

Bacigalupo was made aware of the situation on Sunday after a friend who lives near the showroom sent him a video of the river of water flowing down the Stockbridge streets. Bacigalupo looked at the showroom cameras and saw that the showroom floor was already flooded. He said: “I signed into my CCTV at the showroom, and it was like looking at a loch or a river. If I stood in the showroom, the water would be up to my knees.” 

The street had not been closed off, which meant all the traffic made waves and pushed more water into the showroom and surrounding shops and houses. Bacigalupo got to the showroom quickly and was able to get sandbags from the fire brigade. He also phoned the council, but they could not be reached.

Local people and friends came to help with the clean-up of the showroom. Bacigalupo reflected on the kindness of local people, some of whom were total strangers but just wanted to help. He said: “If I’m trying to find positive things in this, I just thought it was so charming that so many people offered to help and just arrived at the showroom with mops and buckets, which made me want to cry. It made me think that the worst times bring out the best in people.”

On Sunday, the team got the majority of the water out, and during Monday, the showroom had got industrial dehumidifiers in to help with the damp. Customers have also been notified of the showroom flood and closure.

Bacigalupo said: “Here we go again. All night and all today, we have been picking up buckets of water and cleaning the place. We have dehumidifiers in again.”

The damage sustained in October was about the same as it is now, however this time Bacigalupo and the team were able to get into the showroom much more quickly. He explained how last time the worst damage was only visible after a week or so, as the water started to dry and flooring and walls started to break, which means the full extent of the current damage now is as yet unknown.

Edinburgh council has since said up to 37mm of rain had fallen – that’s around half the average July rainfall – in one hour. The council said the downpour was beyond the capacity of the city’s drains and sewer system.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: “No city’s drainage systems are designed to cope with the sort of short, sharp volume of water experienced yesterday. However, as it’s not possible to predict this kind of extreme weather, which is regrettably becoming more frequent as climate change affects intensify. Localised flooding was unfortunately inevitable.”

Bacigalupo believes that the council’s decision to build new houses without updating the drainage and infrastructure is the problem. He said: “It is a world heritage city that is expanding at a volume that we cannot cope with.

“We’ve been here since 2004 and in the past year, we’ve had this twice and never before. But remember that all around us, more flats and properties are being built. So there is a massive surge in property, but the roads, the infrastructure and the drainage are Victorian and cannot cope.

“We have a council that cannot provide services, that does not give us proper drainage, and then connects it to Victorian drainage. The council permits all these new properties to be built, but the infrastructure cannot cope.”

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