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Albert Nocera’s Picton practice after the flood

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By Rhiannon Riches
Assistant Editor

 

Albert Nocera, owner of Medispecs Picton south-west of Sydney, has had to temporarily close his practice after it was inundated by floodwater.

Mr Nocera, a member of Optometry NSW/ACT, said the water level in the practice had been at chin height. Stock, equipment and furniture were damaged but the extent of the damage is not yet known. ‘It’s still to be determined,’ Mr Nocera said.

The company with which he is insured, NRMA, was investigating whether the damage had been caused by flooding or stormwater, as the outcome would affect the insurance claim. NRMA was sending a hydrologist to inspect the property, Mr Nocera said.

‘NSW Premier Mike Baird visited yesterday with local member Jai Rowell, and I spoke with them both,’ Mr Nocera said on the Tuesday following the previous weekend’s heavy rain.

Mr Nocera has owned and managed Medispecs Picton for 25 years and has never before experienced interruption to his business.

He said he had arrived at work on the Monday morning, after two days of deluge, and had not been expecting it to be business as usual.

‘I got a call on Sunday afternoon, alerting me to a video of Picton flooding that had been posted on Facebook. The town was closed off when I turned up on Monday. The water line had receded from its high mark, but I could see it had risen to chin height inside the practice.

‘I turned up dressed for work but I had a change of clothes in case I needed to clean up. I thought, “It will be a miracle if we escape unscathed” but we did not. The whole street was affected by flooding,’ he said.

Mr Nocera said the street had flooded once before but as his practice had been built a couple of steps above street level, he had not been affected on that occasion. This time he was not so fortunate.

‘All my storage cupboards are warped from the water. The frames on the top three shelves are fine but everything below that has been submerged, including all my optometry equipment.

‘I rang my equipment supplier to ask for advice. They said don’t even think about plugging in or turning on equipment that has been potentially damaged by water. My refractor head survived as it was above the water level, but everything else was partially or completely submerged. The practice was trashed.’

Mr Nocera also owns Medispecs Goulburn and has been working in that practice two days a week to cover a staff shortage.

‘I put a closed sign up in my Picton practice. The whole town is closed, no-one is trading. We’re waiting for the power to come back on. It could take a while to get back up to speed,’ he said.

Mr Nocera called Optometry NSW/ACT and spoke about his predicament with CEO Andrew McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon said the organisation would assist in any way it could when members were faced with interruption to their business as a result of circumstances beyond their control.

In 2014, Rozelle optometrist Harry Notaras was forced to close his practice for more than a week following an explosion in a nearby shop.

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