Flood-affected optometry practices are counting the cost of the clean-up and lost business, almost a fortnight since the natural disaster inflicted large scale damage to businesses and homes in parts of Queensland and NSW.
According to ProVision – an independent network with around 450 practices – a handful of its members reported flooding of their practices. The extent of damage ranged from closure due to evacuation orders, to low level flooding, and for some being fully submerged.
Areas affected included Lismore, Casino, Kingscliff, Collaroy, Kempsey, Singleton and parts of western Sydney. Apart from those severely affected, many ProVision optometrists had been impacted by secondary flood issues including accessibility for both staff and patients. Loss of business has been an unfortunate result with a significant number reporting closure of between one and five days.
One of the worst affected practices was Lamas & Brown Optometrists, which operates two practices in Lismore and Casino – both affected by flooding.
On its Facebook page, the practice said its Casino store was now operational, however it has now set up a new temporary premises Wollongbar while it seeks to rebuild the Lismore practice over the coming months.
“We ventured into Lismore [on 2 March] and like everyone we were confronted by a disaster beyond belief,” the practice wrote on social media.
“But we started the rebuild. Two practices – two floods. My wonderful Casino crew and their partners have cleaned out the shop and have everything back in running order. Lismore is going to take a lot longer. We had about 500mm of water through our top level. We managed to remove the suspended ceiling, then the underlying gyprock ceiling. We then cleaned all the mud and grime off downstairs.”
In some good news, the practice stated its spectacle jobs were above the flood level and OK, while its most expensive diagnostic equipment was also saved.
On social media, another practice, Be Seen Eyewear, also reported flooding in its Lismore store, as well as Mullumbimby Optometrist which stated it would not be able to operate for at least three weeks.
ProVision said while a few practices will take months to rebuild and reopen, secondary impacted practices have been returning to full operations.
“Even after re-opening, there may be a slow return to normal business where whole areas are impacted including people’s homes,” the organisation stated.
“ProVision is assisting affected practices with fee relief and payment plans, as well as working with our supplier partners on extended trading terms and top-up discounts to ease cash flow pressures over the coming months. We are also providing leasing advice in relation to property repairs, HR support, and marketing communications assistance. From our members’ feedback, the biggest help is knowing we are there to support them, reaching out to check in and looking for ways to help.”
ProVision said it had also been inundated with offers of assistance by fellow members showing concern for their colleagues.
“Offers of equipment, manpower and financial contributions show the true spirit of independent optometry. ProVision is working now on the most effective way of facilitating this in the coming week.”