WA: West Kimberley residents are taking their flood frustration to social media

Although the immediate threat of massive flooding has passed, residents in the north-west of the country continue to struggle with supplies.

The communities of Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing are still suffering from the effects of ex-tropical cyclone Ellie, which brought heavy rains and major flooding to central and western Australia’s Kimberley regions in early January.

The flooding washed away large sections of the Great Northern Highway, a vital link between cities, causing transportation problems and disrupting the flow of supplies.

Local residents already grappling with damaged property and disrupted lives are taking to social media to vent their frustration.

Maita Sherrin-Angouin is one such resident. She manages a rest stop and has used TikTok to describe how “they are having a very difficult time getting food into Derby”.

“We’re getting supplies from the Air Force filling the shelves at Woolworths and in a couple of days it’s gone,” Ms Sherrin-Angouin said.

“Then we have to wait a few more days for the food to come; we have no idea when we’re refueling; We currently have alcohol restrictions…so nobody can buy alcohol to go…and there is a shortage of cigarettes.

“So you’re adding about 200 evacuees to a small town that’s already struggling – that’s going to create a bit of chaos.

“And I have no idea who the hell is controlling all this, but Australia … completely forgot about the Kimberleys [sic] and about Derby and left us to find out for ourselves.

“It’s a heck of a lot of pressure,” Ms Sherrin-Angouin said, wondering why food drops and fuel take so long to reach her.

Ms Sherrin-Angouin also used her TikTok account to post a video of a trip to the local Woolworths, where the shelves can be seen mostly empty with no fresh meat, fruit or vegetables.

Among the little treats available are packets of instant noodles.

The local government has also warned people against hoarding.

“Please do not over-buy when shopping for your groceries and household items,” the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley said in an update on Monday.

“Some people have bought too much and there is nothing left for others.”

It follows a post on her Facebook page on Saturday, in which the advice urged: “We can’t stress this enough – you should only buy what you and your family need.

“We understand it’s a stressful time and additional stock levels may seem helpful in the long term, but can be detrimental to other people in your community in the short term.”

Repairs continue to be made on main roads, but progress is slow as Main Roads WA crews are building gravel roads to allow vehicles to pass portions of the Great Northern Highway that have been washed away.

Instead, supplies were delivered to Broome and Derby via barges from the sea.

The state’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services said large-scale resupply deliveries will continue to occur daily by air and road whenever possible.

The influx of evacuees into Derby led to a week-long ban on take-away alcohol, but that has now been extended until the end of January.

Only one pub in town could serve alcohol, which due to shortages was limited to beer cans poured into a glass.

A spate of crime was also a catalyst for Prohibition.

Derby Police used their Twitter account to post CCTV footage of a break-in at a local petrol station on January 16 where cigarettes were stolen.

Another Jan. 17 post shows a man stealing from what appears to be the outside patio of a private home.

Karen Rule, who owns and runs a gym in Derby, took to Facebook to slam the McGowan government’s $6 million flood package aimed at the tourism industry.

“Please explain how discounted flights to Broome will help the Kimberley?” Ms Rule asked in her post, tagging the account of WA Secretary of Tourism Roger Cook.

“Derby Town businesses NEED to get cargo/stocks/supplies on our shelves, in our sheds, in our workshops so we can keep working and keep working! But NO, you’re giving a $6 million discount to people who’re coming anyway instead of keeping our city running.

Meanwhile, local residents will also brace for another bad turn in weather conditions heading into the weekend.

“A weak tropical low is expected to move west into the region from the Timor Sea on Wednesday and then turn south toward the Pilbara or West Kimberley coast on Thursday,” a Tropical Cyclone Outlook report said by the Bureau of Meteorology, released late Monday.

The system is expected to remain weak as it crosses the Pilbara over the weekend, but there is still a moderate chance it could develop into a tropical cyclone on Friday and Saturday.

According to the FBI, the “moderate probability” is between 20 and 50 percent.

Bad weather during the worst of the flooding prevented planes from landing at regional airports, and high winds caused helicopters to arrive with delays in delivering vital supplies.

A community information center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Broome Civic Center at Sammy Hall, 27 Weld St.

Originally posted as Tensions in a flood-hit city amid a supply crisis

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