Nearly two weeks after the Rangitaiki River breached its banks, flooding the Bay of Plenty town of Edgecumbe, Fonterra’s Farm Source regional sales manager Nigel O’Flaherty and the store manager Mark Lawrence were allowed in to see how the Farm Source Store had fared.
They were greeted with devastation. A muddied water mark sat around the walls at over half a metre high, where flood waters had run through the store and the outlying yard.
“Store products on the lower shelves had floated off the shelves and were in a ruined mess on the floor, and the sheer power of the water had moved bundles of posts and piping from one side of the yard to the other,” Nigel says.
The receding waters left a store and a yard covered in several centimetres of mud.
But help was soon at hand.
“The Fonterra Emergency Response Team (ERT) made contact and we planned a recovery process for the store. At the same time, ERT were supporting local farmers in their time of need and our factory site so they were incredibly busy.”
Nigel says the ERT team washed and sterilised the full store and yard within days of being able to enter the site.
“Our loss will be a lot less than expected due to the efforts from this team,” he says.
Soon after, a team from Store Development, as well as staff from within the region and outlying stores, came to dismantle old shelving, fit new shelving and merchandise the store.
While Regional Area managers were providing a valuable resource and help out in the field.
“The support from everyone in the business has had a really positive impact on the Edgecumbe team, helping them get back on their feet,” says Nigel.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, whose heavy rains caused the flooding, multiple farms in Edgecumbe, Te Puke, Galatea and Reporoa areas were flooded, and the Galatea store was cut off for days due to road slips.
A flood relief support package was pulled together at short notice to ease the pressure and to support our farmers, says Nigel.
“In an event like this, it makes you proud of being part of a company that can just “Make it Happen” and work with “Co-operative Spirit”, he says.
Edgecumbe Farm Source Store officially reopened on May.