Tons of food are ready to arrive at Coober Pedy as more rain is forecast for SA’s northwest

More than 20 tonnes of food and other emergency supplies will arrive at Coober Pedy today as authorities monitor the impact of more rain on southern Australia’s soaked outback.

Between 50 and 150 millimeters of rain is expected to hit parts of the north-west of the state over the next three days, which will further flood a region that is already mostly closed to the rest of Australia due to heavy rainfall in the recent week-and-a-half.

A large C-27 cargo plane left RAAF Base Edinburgh at noon on its way to Coober Pedy, loaded with pallets loaded with supplies.

Five similar planes will go north over the next 24 hours.

“We have about 20 tons of essential, primarily food,” said State Emergency Management Agency (SES) Chief Officer Chris Beattie.

“This is refrigerated, frozen, fresh food and fresh meat.

“We have about four tons of meat and so on – so those are pretty much essential food supplies for that community.”

SA SES deputy director Liz Connell said the agency had worked with the local community to determine what its needs were.

Three trucks full of food usually arrive at Coober Pedy each week, but they have mostly not been able to get past the flooding over Stuart Highway at Glendambo, about 250 miles south.

More rain to hit the region

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms over the northwestern pastoral district from this afternoon until Tuesday.

She warned tourists to stay away from the area.

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“We especially urge people who are planning to go up in that area to delay these plans,” she said.

“There’s a blockage in Stuart Highway and we can not get people past that Glendambo blockade and we continue to work on it.”

Six additional SES staff are already in Coober Pedy to plan water rescues, and more are coming to distribute food to the city via its supermarket.

The commander of the Army’s 9th Brigade, Graham Goodwin, will oversee the operation.

He said the defense force would provide more assistance where needed.

“Let me assure the people of Coober Pedy and the surrounding areas: there will be food, there will be supplies, and it will be ongoing until we get through this particular period of emergency,” he said.

Ms Connell said repairs to the railways connecting South Australia with the Northern Territory and Western Australia are now expected to be completed between 14 and 17 February.

Pallets in a warehouse with forklift
Pallets of food and other supplies in a warehouse at RAAF Base Edinbrugh on the way to Coober Pedy.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

It is unclear when Stuart Highway will reopen.

“The road infrastructure, at the moment they are still trying to assess it,” Ms Connell said.

“Many of the roads are still under water and the assessment still cannot be put in place.”

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