Flood-ravaged Harvey Norman store begins rebuilding

By Matthew Henry

NEWCASTLE: Floodwaters have devastated Paul Murphy’s Harvey Norman in Newcastle’s main street causing millions of dollars of damage to stock and store, but the embattled proprietor told Current.com.au today that he is committed to rebuilding the business.

Murphy, a veteran electrical retailer in the area and former chairman of the defunct Retravision New South Wales group, spent today sifting through the wreckage of his Newcastle premises after the weekend’s deluge.

The flood waters which engulfed New South Wales’ Hunter Region at the weekend, causing several casualties, overflowed into Murphy’s Hunter Street store on Friday night.

“It won’t break my spirit, it certainly dints your spirit,” Murphy told Current.com.au today.

“The support that I have had from the industry and from friends, business associates and consumers has just been fantastic so it inspires you to say the goodwill is there and I just have to get on and make a go of this – I’m here for the longhaul,” he said.

While flood damage has been the major contributor to Murphy’s woes, the store was also one of several businesses in the local area to have been looted during the chaos of the downpour.

“The write-off of the stock and the damage to the store will run into the millions. The looting was just the sad part about it, but only amounts to a few grands worth of gear.”

According to newspaper reports, looting began on Friday night and local businesses had to hire security to guard premises on Saturday. Up to 30 looters are reported to have clashed with security on Sunday night in Newcastle West.

Murphy lost around $10,000 worth of stock, mainly iPods and PlayStations.

“It’s just the thought that people would take advantage of a very bad situation for the community in general – and it’s not just my place that got looted, other stores have had stock knocked off too, so it’s just terrible,” said Murphy.

The full extent of the damage to Newcastle’s economy will be revealed in the coming days and weeks, but Murphy believes this is the worst natural disaster to have hit the city in memory.

“It’ll be worse than the earthquake, I’ll anticipate, in the final wash-up. It’ll be just unbelievable, and it’s not just commercial but the domestic property like vehicles. There are still cars lying about the place that people can’t get going,” he said.

Murphy’s store will need to be significantly overhauled before he can resume trading, but he expects the business will recover.

“I don’t know how long I will be shut down for, it’s a bit early yet. We’re just taking it hour-by-hour at the moment, working out what we do, but we’ve got to empty the shop out totally. Most of the stock in there is no good. We’ve got to allow the flooring to dry out and then re-carpet and refit the shop out. It’s going to be a few weeks I would think, but a bit early to judge,” he said.

“I’ve been through an earthquake, I had a fire in the store a couple of years ago and now a flood so I think I’ve had my share – I don’t want any more."

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