Businesses affected by Umina Mall fire
Jane Raj Is finished.
She's looking for a job, after the Umina Mall fire burnt down her dreams of running her own business.
Ms Raj opened Artisan Gifts and Therapies in the mall last August, only to lose everything in the fire two weeks ago.
Yes, she was insured.
"But how do you get reimbursed for your time,'' she asks.
Ms Raj sold handmade goods:
"Every day I would make something.''
Now, she is looking for a job because she cannot afford the rents being asked for other shops in the area.
Sid's Barbershop has started a Go Fund Me page to try to raise $20,000 to go towards rebuilding both the barber shop and the cafe his family had started only a week before the fire.
However, perhaps the greatest number of customers affected will be those of the Blooms pharmacy.
Blooms The Chemist Umina pharmacist Mr Markos Atalla said he and his staff were busy trying to assist their hundreds of customers.
"Our biggest headache is that we used to keep lot of scripts on file, losing the business is bad but we are doing a lot of running around trying to calm people's nerves,'' Mr Atalla said.
Some scripts and customer folders were rescued while others were damaged.
Blooms staff are driving to customers' homes - the only sure way they can make contact - with many customers with an average age of more than 80 years.
"We have many loyal customers. We would hate to lose their trust in us,'' Mr Atalla said.
"They trusted me with their prescriptions and medications."
He said customers had the choice of what they wanted to do.
They could take their scripts back.
They could find another pharmacy of their own choice.
They could return to their doctor for new scripts.
They could ask to be transferred to another Blooms pharmacy or they could ask Umina Pharmacy to dispense.
Mr Atalla is currently working from the Erina Blooms pharmacy but was looking for new premises.
"We have to find a place,'' he said.
"I have been here nearly 12 years and I want to stay here.
"I know them all personally."
He said a petition to council asking for the process of renewal to be quick received 700 signatures in seven hours.
"There has been a development application on this site for eight or nine years and there's a sticking point with the laneway,'' he said.
"My personal feeling is the price is unreasonable.''
Interview, Jan 25
Markos Atalla, Blooms Pharmacy Umina
Jane Raj, Artisan Gifts and Therapies
Press Release, Jan 25
Cr Richard Mehrtens
Merilyn Vale, journalist