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'It's pretty bad': Halifax mall retailers reeling after major flood

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Scores of retailers at a busy shopping mall in downtown Halifax are counting their losses after a major flooding event on the weekend, and some worry they won't recover.

Water from a broken pipe started rushing into Scotia Square early Saturday morning, but the damage was already done by the time it was shut off.

"Approximately 20 tenant spaces were impacted, the majority of which are retail and services," said Elizabeth Engram, senior manager, marketing and public relations for Crombie REIT, the owners of the complex.

"Flooding was caused by a broken water line that has since been repaired. We're consulting with third-party experts and continue to investigate the cause of the break," said Engram, adding that the food court wasn't damaged and remained operational. "We continue to work closely with our tenants to address any impacts to their space.”

The incident was heartbreaking for Jessica Bowden, owner of the clothing store UbU4U who says she just recovered from another flooding incident at the mall back in August - and she's only been open a year.

"There was a pipe that broke or a pipe that was spewing sewage in the back room of my store. That closed me down," said Bowden from her home in Timberlea. "I had literally just got my store back up again about two weeks ago.”

"I opened my store Dec. 5 of last year. And, I may be closing Dec. 5 this year," she said, her voice breaking.

"So, that's how devastating it is. It's pretty bad."

How and why it all transpired is less clear.

Halifax Water says its crews were alerted to the problem early Saturday morning.

"Our emergency phone was contacted at approximately 3:00 in the morning Saturday. We had emergency crews on site as quickly as they could be to find the source of the leak, isolate it, and shut it off," said Jake Fulton, a spokesperson for the utility. "It was determined the leak was taking place on private property, and it was coming from a privately-owned pipe.

"Scotia Square Mall is a very large building with a number of water services into it. They're not a small water service.”

With many employees unable to go to work, much of the impacted building was very quiet Monday morning.

John Abbass, owner of Econo Color, had been in and out of the building a number of times, surveying the damage and watching the cleanup, but the end result doesn't get any better.

"It's a complete write off," he said. "The water was everywhere. The ceiling's gone and everything."

Abbass said the business had been in the mall for 11 years, but not much longer.

"We're going to relocate," he told CTV News.

Engram was unable to provide a possible time frame for re-opening.

"We cannot confirm a date yet; our team is working diligently to reopen the full complex as soon as possible," she said.

The mall can do what the mall can do because they're losing, too," said Bowden. “At the end of the day, they're a major corporation, We're a small business, up and coming."

An unfortunate reality for some retailers heading into the Christmas season - a flood of losses at the worst time of year.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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