'I looked through the letter box hoping it wasn’t true' - floods force children's play centre to close (From Watford Observer)
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'I looked through the letter box hoping it wasn’t true' - floods force Parents Paradise in Bushey to close
The co-owner of an indoor play centre in Bushey said she is "heartbroken" at having to close after the weekend rain completely flooded the building.
Wendy Attwood has co-owned Parents Paradise on Greatham Road with her sister for the past six years, and said she is "still in shock" at the amount of damage.
The play centre, which is for children up to the age of 11, backs onto Water Lane which was closed all weekend after substantial rainfall.
Mrs Attwood said: "We had to shut early on Friday because the car park was underwater. We knew more heavy rain was on the way, so laid out sandbanks before we left.
"However, this was useless. We were absolutely devastated to return on Saturday and find our centre under about 2 foot of water and the children’s toys floating in the water along with some of the bins.
"Our hearts sunk - the centre looked like it was an island in the middle of a lake. At first I looked through the letter box hoping it wasn’t true.
"We still can’t believe it happened, I don’t think it’s happened in 240 years at the estate."
The whole first floor of the centre will need to be refurbished, with new carpets, kitchen and equipment. Although the insurance company will cover the damage, Mrs Attwood said she is expecting to lose 20% of the businesses annual income.
She continued: "Luckily the insurance will cover rebuilding the business. But we are a seasonal business, and with half term coming up it is heartbreaking to close at such a busy time. At the moment, it is looking like we will be closed for around eight weeks, and have had to cancel birthday parties.
"One of our main concerns is our staff, who have bills to pay and families to support. So far they have been amazing helping us clear out. We will be back though, bigger and better."
Mrs Attwood said the support from the local community has been "heart warming".
She said: "We have been overwhelmed with the amount of support offered. We have had around 12 people a day here helping pull up the carpets.
"We even had an eight-year-old, Charlotte Kingsley, who offered to sell paintings for money towards the refurbishment. As a result we have decided we are going to make an inspiration wall. During the refurbishment, we will have a wall full of children’s pictures which will help us keep going."
The centre hopes to be open by Easter.
To get involved in the inspiration wall or view more pictures of the damage visit: https://www.facebook.com/ParentsParadise?fref=ts