What a disaster!

Some of you might already know about it, but last Monday, a major calamity struck the south end of Upper Street. A large water supply pipe bursted at 4am and flooded the entire vicinity, causing millions of pounds of damages. The area affected by it included the beloved Camden Passage, a cobbled small street lined with antique shops and independent boutiques. I felt sick in my stomach and became very worried about the fate of all those charming shops which made the street so popular.

Because of my Bella not being herself after being shaved last Tuesday, I could not go out to inspect how the flooded area was like until yesterday.

How are they doing now?

I approached the passage from Angel tube station. As I got nearer to the street, an unmistakeable smell of damp got stronger. The scenery on Islington High Street seemed to be deceptively calm and ordinary as cafes and shops along the street were busy with customers as usual. A couple was walking in front of me, and as a result, I overheard their conversation. A woman was recounting how she was awaken by the water gushing into her room. ‘The water just kept on coming, and I have no idea why they didn’t stop it sooner.’ In fact, Thames Water took four hours to stop the leak. The woman looked very composed and somehow stoic about the calamity, but I really wanted to give her a big hug and to say how sorry I was.

Camden Passage looked badly affected…

It appeared that some shops were better off than others.

My favourite knitting salon LOOP was up and running as usual and so was its next door…

However, Kevin Page Oriental Art nearby was completely gutted…

And the cherished Pierrepont Arcade, in where so many delightful knick-knacks were displayed and sold, was completely out of bound to the public…

Not much could be done by anyone on time to save delicate vintage items as the flood happened in the very early hours. My heart ached as I imagined how the poor store owners felt when they saw the state of their shops…

After five days, the skips still were filling up with the debris from the shops and the houses…

It is terrible to be hit by this kind of disaster any time of the year, but especially now, just weeks before Christmas, it is devastating for the business because it should be the busiest time of the year. Not only they lost days’ of takings but also they had to spend their precious time instead for cleaning up and paperwork for filing the insurance claims.  Some worse-off people many not even have goods to sell.

Thames Water was still hard at work…

Please work fast and restore some normality to the area as soon as possible.

The south bound traffic was still suspended and I had no idea where they, especially buses, were diverted…

If the weather was not as bad as today, we shall visit Camden Passage for some gift shopping. We all must support our local shops, mustn’t we? I hope they will find their legs very soon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

7 thoughts on “What a disaster!

    • Indeed! One of the affected shop owners was telling me that there had been 3 water leaks at the same spot in the past 20 years. We guessed the water company had found paying out for the damages would be cheaper than doing a proper overhaul of the problem section. It is infuriating if it is the case, isn’t it? I saw an old guy who owned a small vintage shop today. He was still very affected by the incident. I hope the water company will apologise properly and sincerely to him and to everyone who was affected.😡😡😡

  1. I do hope the Japanese Gallery was okay. Looks from your pics that it might have escaped. I hate to think of some of those fabulous, antique woodblock prints getting damaged.

    • Hi Agnes, the Japanese gallery didn’t weather the flood very well, unfortunately. I watched on TV that the majority of their expensive prints were kept in the basement, and as a result, almost all of them were ruined. However, they were back in the business when I visited the street yesterday. Let’s hope they can bounce back from the incident soon…😢

      • Oh my goodness what a pity. I guess they never dreamt they’d be flooded there, how unlucky. I hope they get compensated for their losses, but it won’t bring back the lost art. Oh dear.

      • Yes, it’s very sad. I’m also very worried about small antique shops near the gallery who shared the same fate. The owners of those gems are mainly old people and the incident may make them think to give up trading there altogether. Camden Passage is not as large as Portbello Rd and it is precisely the charm we cherish about the place. It may take months before they can reopen, but I hope the same people will come back and reopen the original shops again 🙏🏻

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