Residents of Coober Pedy question delays in government assistance after isolated floods cause food shortages

Supermarket shelves in the remote South Australian city of Coober Pedy were left just after part of Stuart Highway was flooded last week.

It was a situation that caused local resident Terry Brennan-Kuss to worry about the vulnerable members of his community.

“The shelves were completely bare, it was awful, no bread, nothing like that, a little bit of milk, but a huge shortage of pretty much everything,” Mr Brennan-Kuss said.

“It’s a big concern – I mean we’re okay, we have a freezer full of food and some canned food, but definitely for some of the people in town, some of the older people who just buy as they need it. , day to day, they are not going to have a large supply of food up their sleeve.

“Baby food, stuff like that, people with four or five kids in their family, it’s pretty scary. No bread, it’s awful.”

Stuart Highway DPTI
Floods on Stuart Highway after record-breaking rain. (Facebook: SA Infrastructure and Transport)

The highway, which connects SA and the southern states of the country with the Northern Territory, has been closed between Coober Pedy and the remote outpost of Glendambo since the gruesome weather event.

The floods of the past week have also caused major damage along part of the railway line between Coondambo and Lyons, 473 kilometers northwest of Port Augusta.

Motorists have reported that Coober Pedy has run out of autogas and is lacking diesel.

Sir. Brennan-Kuss said the town had not had fresh produce delivered in a week until a food truck managed to get through today.

“If there had been virtually no food coming in today, we would have been in really big trouble because there was just nothing left,” he said.

The floods have also led to a shortage of supermarkets in the Northern Territory, forcing Coles to impose purchase limits on essential groceries.

empty supermarket producing bays
Supermarkets in Alice Springs have also been left without fresh produce and other important supplies. (ABC Alice Springs)

On Friday, the South Australian government declared the floods and storm damage on the Eyre Peninsula a “major incident”, giving State Coordinator Police Commissioner Grant Stevens additional powers to tackle the movements of heavy vehicles, food safety and other issues affecting isolated remote areas. communities.

Local residents have expressed concern about the lack of state aid since the highway was flooded.

“Next time, or even now, I would like to see a little more effort to remedy the problem.”

An aerial photo of a water-filled outback setting showing b-double and triple-carriages parked on and off the road.
Trucks are stranded while waiting for the floods to recede on Stuart Highway.(Delivered: Mat Kerin)

Federal Government Adopts ‘Disaster Response Plan’

This afternoon, Federal Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie issued a statement addressing the supply chain shortage.

Ms McKenzie said: “Australians can be assured that measures will be taken to maintain critical supplies and groceries to Darwin, Western Australia and Coober Pedy in southern Australia after severe flooding has caused damage to road and rail infrastructure”.

“The national coordination mechanism has worked actively with states and territories, supermarkets, railway owners and operators, road freight operators to respond to disruptions in the supply chain situation caused by the severe weather,” she said.

Ms McKenzie said the federal government had activated the government ‘disaster response plan’ in anticipation of requests for financial assistance.

“Our first concern is for the safety and needs of those directly affected, and we know that by working together we can keep the wheels turning and restore supply chains across the country,” she said.

“Society also has a role to play in this, by buying what you need and not hoarding. This increases demand unnecessarily and then directly affects supply.”

Rubble and stones are being laid on a desert highway by a bobcat
The SA Department of Infrastructure and Transport says its staff work around the clock to repair the highway. (Facebook: SA Infrastructure and Transport)

Gray Rowan Ramsey Member welcomed the announcement.

“It’s unclear at this time when Stuart Highway will reopen, and the concerns expressed by the Coober Pedy community and the people who trust it as a supply line are understandable,” Ramsey said.

“Simply put, we need to find an immediate way to get goods through.”

According to the government, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has issued a ‘Class 2 Supplementary Access Northern Territory Assistance Notice’, which will allow increased freight capacity on alternative road networks to try to ensure that essential supplies are delivered.

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