Shoppers have reported empty supermarket shelves amid the bushfire crisis, and while it can seem like a dire situation, there is a positive explanation in some cases.
A woman some 20km out of Melbourne’s CBD claims she could not find any 300ml water bottles in stock when she went to three supermarkets in the city.
“I thought it was unusual, I’ve never seen that happen before, but then a worker advised me the stock had ‘been out for a while’ and was being distributed to the CFA,” Antonietta Sabatino told the Herald Sun.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket has supplied over 50 pallets of water to one of their partners, The Salvation Army, for them to distribute to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) across the far east of Gippsland.
“We’re also helping to provide donations of water, food and essential supplies to evacuation centres to support The Salvation Army, and our stores are also assisting with donations to their local CFA,” the Woolworths spokesperson said.
“More deliveries of essential supplies to evacuation centres arrived late yesterday to support our partner The Salvation Army.
“We understand it’s an anxious time and thank customers for their patience as we negotiate weather conditions and ensure the safety of our team, many of whom have been impacted by the fires and evacuated from their own homes.”
Coles has also been providing aid in the form of food, water and essential supplies to emergency workers and evacuation centres in fire-affected areas.
A spokesperson also said Coles was supporting team members who have been volunteering to fight the fires.
“In Victoria, Coles has so far donated 10 pallets, containing 1033 cartons of food and essentials, to Foodbank, which will be distributed by road and sea freight to emergency centres in Gippsland,” the spokesperson said.
According to the spokesperson, there have been 18 pallets containing 1600 cartons of food and essentials donated to Foodbank in NSW, which have been distributed to the Cobargo, Bega and Bermagui evacuation centres.
Coles also sent off four pallets of fruit and vegetables for animals at Mogo Zoo and team members at the Batemans Bay store are making bread rolls and roasting chicken to donate.
In addition to sending off supplies, Coles has provided more than 6000 rural fire brigades nation-wide with over $3 million in gift cards, “as a thank you to all volunteer firefighters”, the spokesperson said.
“Coles and its customers have also donated more than $500,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund through Coles and customer donations,” the spokesperson said.
“Customers can continue to donate to Red Cross at all checkouts at Coles supermarkets.”
The Coles spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia there is no shortage of water in stores.
While communities on NSW’s south coast brace for the worst, Woolworths has ensured stores in the area are replenished with essentials for the local community, thanking local Woolworths teams for their hard work.
“Further replenishment of stock arrived last night to Merimbula, Tura Beach and Bega including fresh fruit and vegetables and essential supplies for the local community. These stores opened early today but will be closed early today to ensure the safety of our team in today’s weather conditions,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.
“Narooma, Bermagui, Batemans Bay and Moruya are all closed today and are expected to reopen tomorrow.”
Customers stock up on essentials
Another woman from Canberra shared a series of photos from the Majura Park Woolworths on January 2, where the shelves were bare.
“Does this mean Canberra is fire ready?” the woman asked on Twitter.
“If you're evacuating from the coast, you've come up the Monaro and head onto Majura Parkway, it's the first real supermarket you hit,” someone replied in response to the photos.
Coles in Port Stephens has provided shoppers with free bottled water, encouraging them to keep hydrated.
“Keep hydrated on us,” the sign read.
“Free water for customers.”
The Twitter user who shared the photo praised the ‘Aussie spirit’ the simple gesture showed.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.