Centurion delivers the goods in flooded Kimberley

Centurion delivers goods to flooded Kimberley region.

National carrier, Centurion, has been braving flooded remote areas to deliver groceries to communities impacted by recent floods in Western Australia.

Over the last month, it has worked around the clock on behalf of key partners like Woolworths, Coles Group and the Western Australian Government to urgently transport essential goods to Derby and Broome, towns cut off by rising flood waters.

Flights are currently the only means of public transport in and out of Derby.

The WA Government recently announced it would increase airfare subsidy support to regional airline operator Aviair to ensure surging demand can be met for flights between Derby and Broome in the wake of the Kimberley floods caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie.

It’s anticipated that the increased capacity will continue to provide a critical transport link for the community, as well as emergency services and recovery support.

Sections of the highway around Fitzroy Crossing were completely washed away in the recent one-in-100-year flood event, while the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge sustained significant damage and will need to be fully replaced.

Two road reconstruction crews are working from either end of the damaged section of the highway and will be putting in place temporary gravel roads to allow for the reconnection between Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

Planning is underway for a full road rebuild to begin in the dry season.

Centurion, with help from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, has been running barges and triple roadtrains, with permission from the state governments in Western Australia and South Australia to these isolated areas.

Contingency plans for accessing the damaged Fitzroy Crossing Bridge will see the implementation of a barge system across the river, which will initially be operated by tugs, with a cable system to be operationalised shortly after.

The barge system can be adapted when the river levels fall too low, using portable pontoons, which would act as a temporary crossing.

It will be used while Main Roads constructs a low-level floodway crossing, which will provide a more permanent option while the full replacement of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is undertaken.

Main Roads is considering appropriate locations for the low-level floodway crossing, with construction expected to take around four months to complete.

The State Government said it was open to barge infrastructure being reinstated if the river levels exceeded the height of the low-level floodway crossing at any point.

Planning for a new bridge across the Fitzroy River is well underway. The new bridge will need to be higher and longer, and will be dual-lane, rather than the current single-lane bridge.

Main Roads will work with industry to ensure transport operators are briefed on the operation of the barge system and is currently assessing options for breakdown areas for trucks on approach to Fitzroy Crossing.

“Transporting much needed groceries to Kimberley communities is what we do and we’re doing whatever it takes to ensure vital supplies reach those affected by flooding,” said Centurion.

“We can’t thank enough our team both on the road and at our logistics centres for their incredible commitment to deliver for our FMCG customers Coles Group, Woolworths Supermarkets and the surrounding communities,” the company said.

In recent weeks, Woolworths has donated 10,000 items of food to Foodbank WA to help their dedicated volunteers feed families facing food insecurity as a result of the floods.

“We’re proud of how our store teams on the ground in Derby and Broome continued to put customers first during this challenging time, remaining open to serve the community,” Woolworths said in a statement.

Woolworths also supported efforts by the Salvation Army in Western Australia through funds from the sale of STAND water in stores throughout the year.

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