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Woolies and Coles using land, air and sea to get essential supplies to Townsville

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Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles are going to extreme efforts to get food and essential items to Townsville residents, as the community struggles to get back on its feet in the wake of disastrous flooding.

A year’s worth of rain hit the city in just one week, causing the Ross River Dam to overflow wrecking havoc on the area.

Store shelves have been stripped bare as shoppers stock up on essential items and supermarkets struggle to keep up with demand.

The big two are utilising just about every form of transport to serve the region, including air freight, barges, trucks and road trains.

With road access proving challenging, Woolworths has secured a barge to deliver 300 tonnes of fresh food, nappies, baby formula and other essential items on Thursday.

“We have 30 contingency containers carrying essential lines such as water, long life milk, baby formula, beans, noodles and toilet paper, which we’re drawing on to increase the stock in our Townsville stores now,” said Tina Anandji, Woolworths Northern Queensland Operations Manager.

Woolworth has already sent two charter planes to carry more than 40 tonnes of fresh food and essential items into Cairns, with more to follow in the days ahead. A second barge with 300 tonnes of fresh food and groceries will arrive in Cairns on Friday.

“We know it’s a stressful time for many, and thank our customers for their patience as our team works to fill shelves and serve local shoppers,” Anandji added.

Woolworths supermarkets at Fairfield Central and Hermit Park in Townsville are closed but its ten remaining stores in the area are open and trading. All Woolworths stores in Cairns are open and trading as usual.

 A spokesperson for Coles said it is taking every effort to replenish all impacted stores as quickly as possible.

“Coles is using whatever means necessary to deliver fresh produce, groceries, household essentials and bakery flour to flood-affected stores in Far North Queensland, including air freight, a sea barge, trucks and road trains,” the spokesperson said.

All Coles Supermarkets and Coles Express sites are now open.

Coles thanked its local suppliers, who have helped supply fresh milk, eggs and produce to stores.

For the next two weeks, Coles has pledged to match customer donations to Red Cross to help communities affected by the floods as well as other natural disasters including the bushfires in Tasmania and Victoria.

The combined donations raised at checkouts and matched by Coles will be provided to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to help deploy specially trained teams to provide support to people displaced by the emergency, deliver ongoing support for people affected and assistance for communities to recover.

“Our thoughts are with those who are affected by fires and floods and we are doing what we can at a local level to help by donating blankets, food and pallets of water in Tasmania, and chartering planes and a sea barge to deliver groceries and household essentials to flood-affected customers in Far North Queensland,” said Coles CEO Steven Cain.

“But we want to do more to help these communities at this difficult time by matching customer donations over the next two weeks at every checkout across Australia for the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.”

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