How do you prepare for a category five cyclone that is heading your way? For SCS’s Townsville facility, it began on March 19, with Jeremy Acford (Trainee Supervisor, Townsville) and team securing equipment, pallets and the store itself against the coming attack, while Myles Forbes (Regional Engineering Manager) was contacted to run through contingency plans dealing with the possibility of being hit by the cyclone. Once everything was checked and double checked, there was nothing left to do but wait.
What was to come on the morning of March 20 caught everyone by surprise. Cyclone Larry’s destructive 290km/h winds ripped through the towns of Innisfail, Cairns and Tully, destroying nearly 95% of banana, sugar and paw paw crops and leaving 4,000 jobs in limbo.
Debris-strewn and flooded roads were impossible to cross, and this made it difficult to reach Far North Queensland and make vital deliveries of food to its residents. While SCS’s Townsville facility was spared the brunt of the storm (as was the town itself), the priority lay in making vital deliveries to Coles stores in the region, whose stocks had been wiped out by the power failures caused by the cyclone. Tow operator Ron Buller, who had become stranded in the region while making a delivery on March 19, proved invaluable in providing Swire Cold Storage with information on up to date road conditions.
Good planning and experienced tow operators meant that meat loads for Coles stores located in Far North Queensland arrived ahead of expectations, even though tow operators Mark Perkins and Daryl Heiner had to travel 359 kilometers out of their way. Impressed with Swire Cold Storage’s performance under the trying circumstances, Michael James, CML State Supply Chain Manager - QLD/North NSW, asked SCS to assist with extra deliveries into Cairns.
SCS and its teams, led by Brian Capper, Charmaine Milsom and Clayton Reed, accepted the challenge brought on by Cyclone Larry and made a difference to all the people in North QLD.