10 May 2023

Coen stores boosted by air freight during big wet

| Sarah Martin
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Coen SES volunteers and QPWS rangers work together to unload freight at the airport on Friday.

EIGHT tons of food and essentials are being flown into Coen as flooded crossings and boggy road conditions keep the Cape community isolated.

The flights, coordinated by Cook Shire and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, will carry orders for Mulley’s Market, Mayi Market, Armbrust and Co Store and St John’s Community Care, with the air freight paid for by the state government.

Mayor Peter Scott said Coen, which was the second-biggest town in Cook Shire, was unique among the Cape’s larger communities as it wasn’t accessible by sea or road in the wet season.

“The only option Coen’s stores can afford is road transport, and the road has been closed for the better part of four weeks,” he said.

“They were getting very low on basic necessities and reached out to our Disaster Management Officer last week before supplies reached a critical low point.

“Council coordinated the air freight from Cairns once the stores had put in their orders. We engaged a local air charter in Daintree Air Services to help keep costs at a minimum.”

Cr Scott said although this was Coen’s second resupply this year, with 5.5 tonnes of supplies sent in January, flying supplies in was still an exception.

“Residents and the stores know to stock up during the wet season, but we have had some really big weather events since December which left Coen stranded for longer than usual,” he said.

The first load of supplies, including staple dry groceries, fresh produce, pet food, baby and hygiene items, was unloaded in Coen on Friday morning, with another load dropped off on Monday and the final supplies to be unloaded this morning.

State Emergency Services volunteers helped load the supplies onto Daintree Air Services planes in Cairns, and Coen-based SES volunteers were also on hand to unload.

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the resupplies were vital for remote communities.

“QFES continues to work hand in hand with the Local Disaster Management Group to provide assistance with resupply efforts to isolated communities, including Coen,” Mr Leach said.

“I look forward to getting a first-hand look at the ongoing efforts when I visit Coen (this week).”

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