Supermarket shelves in Western Australia’s Pilbara region have been emptied as residents prepare for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Ilsa.
Photos from supermarkets between Port Hedland and Broome show Woolworths and Coles shelves empty of fresh produce, meat and dairy ahead of the Category 4 storm expected to hit later this week.
Pilbara ABC journalist Michelle Stanley shared a short video of a bare meat toad in Woolworths on Tuesday.
“Thoughts and prayers for Port Hedland supermarket workers today,” she tweeted alongside the clip.
“Needless to say, the water beech was pretty bare, too.”
Supermarkets in the Pilbara are stripped of fresh food as residents prepare for Tropical Cyclone Ilsa to make landfall (pictured, a meat corridor in eastern WA)
A local joked ‘even the brown onion is gone’ from local shops (above)
The cyclone is expected to make landfall between Port Hedland and Broome sometime late Thursday to early Friday.
Winds generated by the massive system have already reached 140 km/h, but could reach 200 km/h by the time the cyclone reaches the coast.
The expected damage could leave some communities cut off from food and water supplies for days.
However, Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter urged residents of Pilbara to prioritize cyclone preparation over panic buying in a Facebook video.
“The main thing is debris flying around your house — your grill, outdoor environment, even your garbage can can become a missile in this wind,” he said.
‘Make sure that loose items in the house are stored safely.’
Concerned local Jennefer Morales shared her own photos of the gutted grocers, News.com.au reports.
‘Look boys. Everyone is getting ready for the cyclone. Oh God, even the brown onion is gone,’ she said.
Grocers have been cleared of fresh produce, meat and dairy (above) ahead of the cyclone’s expected arrival later this week
Both Coles and Woolworths spokesmen assured customers that stores in the region are overstocked with “ambient goods,” food that remains at room temperature so that there will be sufficient supplies in case of an emergency.
Woolworths has also set a two-pack purchase limit for fresh meat products to ensure everyone gets a share.
However, locals said the rush to buy groceries is not unusual.
“Well, if it gets flooded and it takes an extra four to five days for the food to get there, I don’t blame people for stockpiling,” one person said.
“Why on earth don’t people prepare for disaster when they know they’re about to get hit?” another wrote.
Weatherzone meteorologist Anthony Sharwood warned that eastern Pilbara is likely to be hardest hit by the cyclone.
“The BoM says a serious impact is likely along the coast and adjacent inland areas between Port Hedland and Broome, near Wallal Downs, a cattle station about halfway between Port Hedland and Broome,” he said.
However, the cyclone’s effects are expected to be felt as far west as Queensland, with parts of SA and the southern NT facing heavy rainfall.
“As Ilsa moves inland this weekend and deteriorates to a tropical low, heavy rain and/or strong winds could reach western Queensland, affecting places like Birdsville in the state’s far southwest,” Sharwood said.
The Wallal Downs cattle station, the Telfer mine in Newcrest and caravan parks expected to be in the cyclone’s direct path are evacuated.
Category four Cyclone Ilsa (above) is expected to make landfall between Port Hedland and Broome sometime between late Thursday and early Friday
Both Coles and Woolworths (above) have reassured customers that stores are stocked with extra food in case communities are cut off from supplies
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a Blue Alert for ‘people in or near Broome to Bidyadanga (excluding Bidyadanga), inland areas to Nullagine, Parnngurr and Kiwirrkurra (including Telfer and Marble Bar) and De Gray to Whim Creek’ .
The warning means residents in those areas should prepare for severe cyclonic weather and organize an emergency package.
It has also issued a yellow alert for people living between Bidyadanga and De Gray to seek shelter.
Anyone who needs SES help can call 132 500. In a life-threatening situation, call 000.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CYCLONE
Know the warnings
There are four types of cyclone warnings:
- Blue – prepare for a cyclone
- Yellow – prepare for the arrival of the cyclone
- Red – seek shelter inside, it’s too late to leave
- Clear – the cyclone has passed
Prepare your property
If a cyclone warning is issued for your area, make sure all outdoor furniture is secured, tape or cover glass windows that can shatter during a storm, and identify the strongest room in your home.
It is important to know how to shut off your water, electricity and gas supply.
Water supplies can become polluted in major weather events, make sure you have plenty of water.
Prepare an emergency kit
People living in high-risk cyclone areas should have constant access to an emergency kit that can be added once an alert has been issued.
Permanently in the kit must be:
- Emergency contact details and identification documents
- Non-perishable foodstuffs and utensils
- A battery operated radio and flashlight with spare batteries
- Non-perishable medical supplies and a first aid kit
- Bedding and spare clothing (including protective items such as footwear and goggles)
To add to the kit once an alert has been issued:
- At least five days of food, water and medicine
- Mobile phone chargers
- Perishable food