By Muath Freij – Nov 12,2015 – Last updated at Nov 12,2015

Merchant Anwar Zghair’s goods that are stored close to his shop in downtown Amman are seen damaged on Wednesday after last week’s floods (Photo by Muath Freij)

AMMAN — The heavy rainfall that caused floods in downtown Amman last Thursday has prompted many merchants to prepare for similar conditions after sustaining major losses due to the damage to their goods.

Merchants interviewed by The Jordan Times said they want to depend on themselves, charging that officials let them down over the past weekend.

The Garment Traders Association estimates the total value of damage caused by the floods at over JD5 million.

Some merchants said traders whose shops are on Petra Street behind Al Husseini Mosque and at Suq Sukkar, one of the oldest outdoor markets in the area, incurred huge losses.

Anwar Zghair, whose shop was most affected by the floods according to many of his neighbours, recalled that the rainwater started gushing into downtown Amman after 8am and the level rose to one metre on the street.

“Water flooded stores located in lower areas in downtown Amman and they were inundated in a short time,” he said.

Zghair noted that all the food items he had stored at warehouses were damaged in the floods, estimating his losses at JD50,000.

“We will start preparing for winter, and remove all the items that were completely damaged from the warehouses. We will not keep such commodities there during winter,” the merchant said.

“I was completely devastated because I now have no warehouse and will have to get a limited number of goods because I don’t have the space to store them,” added Zghair, who opened his shop on Petra Street in 1966.

Since Thursday, Mohammad Rahhal, who owns a toy store on the same street, has been working with others to clean up the lower floor of the facility every morning and remove the merchandise that was destroyed by the deluge.

Having “lost hope” in “proper preparations” by authorities, Rahhal started constructing a wall to prevent floodwater from entering his premises.

“We have not calculated the losses because we are still clearing up,” he told The Jordan Times.

Issam Bawab, another foodstuff merchant, is taking similar measures.

“I began building a barrier at the front door of the store to prevent flooding. The rainwater damaged all the goods and we have not sold anything since last Thursday; tomorrow [Thursday] we will start bringing new supplies,” he added.

Bawab, who incurred JD25,000 in losses, said he does not dare keep the merchandise in his shop and is going to rent a warehouse for that purpose during winter.

The merchants had different opinions on the reasons behind their losses, with some accusing officials of not doing their job and others simply blaming the heavy rainfall.

Zghair said Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) employees did not show up in downtown Amman and traders had to wait for six hours for Civil Defence Department personnel to pump out the water.

Rahhal noted that the drainage system did not function properly, adding that GAM should have prepared the infrastructure for such eventualities.

Abdul Moati Bader, whose foodstuff store was also affected by the downpour, said the rain was “exceptional”.

“After some minutes, the whole street was flooded — I have never seen anything like it.”

Zghair called on officials to compensate the shopowners. “I hope that they at least cover 25 or 30 per cent of the losses.”

Some of the damaged stores are covered by insurance, while others are not, and those insured will be compensated once the damage costs are calculated, Amman Chamber of Commerce President Issa Murad told The Jordan Times earlier this week.“The merchants’ major complaint is that they were not warned of the sudden heavy downpour; therefore, they were not prepared,” Murad added.