Residents of a rural border town are trying to rebuild their community after “going through hell and back”.
Mungindi, which sits inland on the border of Queensland and NSW, had battled through four years of “horrendous” drought before the coronavirus pandemic created another hurdle for the small town.
Then, on September 1, Mungindi lost its only supermarket in a raging fire that also consumed the local butcher and clothing store.
The blaze has “absolutely gutted” the community, Mungindi Progress Association President Anna Harrison said in a GoFundMe fundraiser created to help raise money to rebuild the lost businesses.
“After battling the drought, then the borders closing and now losing our essential shops, we are in pain,” she said.
The fire began in Reeds Quality Meats at about 7.50pm and is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, Ms Harrison told Yahoo News Australia.
With all of the town’s shops located next to each other on the Main Street, locals rushed to remove merchandise as farmers with water trucks and volunteer firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.
“All the town people were emptying things out fo the other shops into wheelbarrows and taking them out in case - it was chaotic,” Ms Harrison said.
Others were handing out water bottles, she noted.
“It just goes to show you how amazing the town is.”
In the days following the fire, Mungindi locals were forced to leave their Queensland border bubble to travel to nearby Moree to shop – preventing them from then entering the town’s Queensland side, where the hospital is located.
The Queensland government later added Moree to the bubble to alleviate pressure on locals’ access to food and health care.
A pop-up grocery store has also been created to help those who can’t travel easily.
Ms Harrison said she decided to create the fundraiser to help the lost businesses because they had stuck by the community when the drought caused everyone to tighten their purse strings.
“They had skeleton business for four years because of the drought and then they get hit like this,” she said.
“It’s the town’s way of saying thanks for not giving up on us, we’re not going to give up on you.”
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