Stores in Hedland run out of water ahead of Cyclone Veronica

Sarah IsonNorth West Telegraph
VideoSupermarket shelves cleared as Pilbara residents brace for the arrival of Cyclone Veronica.

Shelves in Port and South Hedland supermarkets have been stripped as residents rush to stockpile supplies ahead of the impending category four tropical cyclone, with bottled water supplies almost exhausted.

The town’s local Woolworths confirmed it had run completely out of water, with the next delivery expected Saturday morning at the latest.

Stuart Angus said there would be a fresh food delivery first thing tomorrow and hoped bottled water would follow at 11am or by the afternoon, but it was possible it might not arrive until the day after.

“We’re pretty stocked on most things, but the water has gone AWOL,” he said.

South Hedland Coles manager Dean Garlinge said he expected the store would be out of water in a matter of hours.

A train of shopper grabbing the "essentials". South Hedland Coles, 5pm after a code blue was declared.
Camera IconA train of shopper grabbing the "essentials". South Hedland Coles, 5pm after a code blue was declared. Credit: Daneka Hill

“We’ve got minimal (water) and we’ll be out by later today,” he said.

While Mr Garlinge confirmed trucks bearing supplies including water were expected tomorrow morning and Saturday, deliveries were dependant on weather and roads.

A spokesman for Coles said the retail giant had planned ahead.

“Coles brought forward deliveries for stores in the area forecast to be affected by Cyclone Veronica to increase stocks of essentials to help our customers prepare,” he said.

“We have also ensured the stores have extra non-perishable items such as extra water, UHT milk, baked beans, spaghetti and other essentials.

“Additional deliveries are expected to arrive overnight.”

So far, there have been no major road closures.

Both stores confirmed it was “all hands on deck” as staff were called in to keep up with the influx of customers.

The Pilbara Ports Authority also released a statement this afternoon confirming it had started its cyclone preparations across ports of Ashburton, Dampier and Port Hedland.

“The ports will begin clearing anchorages and berths in a staged and sequential manner,” the statement read.

“The Port of Port Hedland has commenced clearing and will continue to do so until all anchorages and the inner harbour are cleared.”

The Port of Dampier is expected to be cleared by 6pm tonight, followed by the Port of Ashburton which will be cleared by 8am tomorrow morning.

BHP has decided to send home all non-essential FIFO employees from Port Hedland and is clearing the port with the intention of closing it tomorrow.

“Safety is our top priority and we continue to monitor the movement of the cyclone,” a spokesperson said.

“As a precautionary measure, the ports of Cape Lambert and Dampier are being cleared. All other operations are continuing, subject to ongoing monitoring of weather conditions.”

Emergency services issued a warning to tourists make alternative plans and to leave now if they’re in the area.

The Shire of East Pilbara its Council meeting tomorrow and released a statement urging residents to stay up to date on the storm’s developments.

“A number of Shire of East Pilbara communities may be affected, including Cape Keraudren, Warralong community, and Pardoo,” said Shire President Lynne Craigie,” the statement read.

“Our advice from Bureau of Metrology is this is a dangerous cyclone – the most severe in a decade, and they have urged people not to be complacent.”

The community barbecue scheduled for tonight at Marble Bar Civic Centre will still go ahead.

Storm updates from the Bureau of Meteorology are available from: https://twitter.com/BOM_WA.

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