Serving the community has always been at the forefront for Colliver Rd Foodworks in Shepparton — but over recent days the shop took its dedication to a new level.
While its immediate surrounds were engulfed by flood waters, the shop did not close its doors, giving locals the opportunity to stock up on the crucial supplies they needed.
Balancing defending the store from the incoming danger with stocking the shelves for desperate customers, manager Jimmy Shi explained why he decided to keep the shop open.
“This shop is not in the centre of town, so for all the people that live in the community around here it is where they get their food and supplies from,” Mr Shi said.
“A lot of people were trapped, they couldn’t get to Coles or Woolworths to stock up, so we knew we had to stay open to service those people.
“We had people coming through on canoes, wading through the water — it was crazy.
“But everyone was so thankful we stayed open and were able to get the necessities they needed to get through the flood.”
For Mr Shi and the crew at Foodworks, the lead-up to the flooding was a whirlwind.
Caught off guard by the rapidly rising water, he described what was a hectic Saturday trying to defend the shop.
“A lot of people in this area, including myself, were not prepared for this one,” Mr Shi said.
“At first I grabbed 20 bags of sand for the shop from the showgrounds, but on the Saturday morning when I saw the water rising so fast I knew I didn’t have enough.
“So I went back and got a few more and only just managed to get back to the shop before the water trapped me in here.”
The sandbags were not enough to protect the shop, forcing Mr Shi to call on the SES for a late night delivery on Saturday.
“We did the best I could with the sandbags we had, but I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be enough, so I called the SES to get some delivered,” he said.
“And we were very lucky, as they came to the shop at 10pm and delivered us some that were very important in stopping the water coming in.
“I am very appreciative of all of those people at the SES, I don’t know what would have happened without their help.”
Given the necessary protection, the shop sustained only minimal damage from the water, allowing it to remain open.
But if it wasn’t for dedicated staff such as Vikki Butt, who waded through near waist-high water to get to work, Mr Shi would not have been able to provide that crucial community service.
“I feel so grateful to have those workers, who despite the hard times came in and helped us keep operating,” he said.
“The purpose of this shop is to service the community, and through the incredible work of my staff we were able to do that at the toughest of times.”
Extracted from Shepparton News