A businesswoman found herself “destitute” and had nightmares about water when her bar was damaged by flooding after a sink hole appeared.
Prescot Road in Old Swan has been closed for weeks as United Utilities repaired the main water line that caused the sink hole on July 23.
The owner of the Alhambra Bar, which had been open for a month on the site, said she found herself “destitute” with rents and bills piling up before the first of the company’s two down payments water five weeks after the flood.
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Paula Rimmer told ECHO: “I was having nightmares. It was water. Drowning and water.
âI took myself on a bike one day to take away the anxiety and I was at the water’s edge. The whole world just turned and I woke up on the floor.
“Apparently it was a panic or stress attack.”
She added, âIn the first three months I was under the doctor, I’ll be honest with you.
âI was in shock. I just couldn’t absorb, you know, it’s too much information for my brain to take in.
“And I’m just really sad. I don’t know what my future is. I have no idea what I’m doing and I keep trying to get day by day and obviously we’ve got everything else that. is also in the air.
âSo I’m really, really disappointed with United Utilities.
“I feel completely forgotten and neglected.”
Paula said she was left “for five weeks without any support” from United Utilities, which she blames for shutting down her business.
She said: “What they do is they give me bit by bit so that I can actually pay the unpaid bills and things like that, and something to live on, while they sit down on it and decide if I’m entitled to something. “
Paula said she had lost more than Â£ 100,000 in the past five months, private bookings had been canceled and planned to open a cocktail bar two weeks after the flood skid.
She said the venue was full for the following weekends, but it all fell apart.
With the onset of winter and a possible lockdown, Paula fears her place will be renovated and reopened before July, a year after it was forced to close.
United Utilities made two interim payments to Paula pending assessment of her loss of earnings claim.
The businesswoman said, “I want my right. I’m not taking anything less. I haven’t done anything wrong.
âI spent six months and put all my pension and all the business loans that were given to us to restart, every penny and every little sweat and tears went into it for five months.
“And whatever my losses, I want to recover 100% of those losses.”
Paula was informed by her claims adjuster that the water company had accepted responsibility for the flooding and “is therefore responsible for your financial loss and damage.”
But she said four months after sending in her business plan and proof of the losses, she is still awaiting compensation.
She told ECHO: “I really just lost it about five weeks ago and said, ‘You put me in a misery position, I’m sitting here with no gas.’
âI haven’t had gas for three days. I have bad credit on the business because I’m late paying.
âI still have the card machines to pay, I still have the CCTV. I still have all of this to pay while the business is closed, and they are waiting months in arrears.
“So it’s a ripple effect on all these other independent companies that are also in difficulty.”
The floor of the Alhambra bar has been ripped off and 80% of the furniture has gone into the dumpster and has yet to be replaced, Paula said.
A spokesperson for United Utilities said: “We have made two interim payments to Ms Rimmer to help her while we process her compensation claim after the Alhambra bar on Prescot Road was flooded with a rupture water pipe.
âWe have already made a payment to cover the full cost of repairing the property damage. We are ready to process the claim, but in order to do this we need key information, eg past income.
“We have requested this information from Ms. Rimmers’ designated representative so that our claims assessors can urgently process her request. We always aim to respond as quickly as possible in these circumstances.”