KOORALBYN takeaway Eat at 131 faced a test of faith in the aftermath of the storm that ripped through town on February 11 – and when staff put their trust in the decency of hungry customers it was proven to be well placed.
The day after the storm, the shop was one of the few properties in the town that still had cooking facilities after a power outage that lasted all afternoon and evening.
With temperatures in the high 30s and no electricity, staff at the cafe were faced with running gas cookers in the near-dark for customers who were unable to prepare meals at home and could not pay for their food that night.
Cafe co-owner Mary Keys said the power went off without warning about 11.30am and stayed off for almost 13 hours.
“We came into the shop the morning after the storm and the power was on, so we felt confident accepting a freezer delivery,” she said.
“It’s not just that we had no forewarning but we didn’t even get accurate updates from Energex – we had initially been told the electricity would be restored by about 3pm.
“When that time came and went we were told by Energex crew members that we shouldn’t expect power until at least midnight.”
Ms Keys said local off-duty firefighter Dylan Chidgey came to the cafe’s rescue by offering to find a generator to preserve the food in the freezer.
“I was so stressed out about the frozen food but Dylan went and found a generator to keep our freezer running to prevent the loss of the delivery that arrived earlier in the day.”
Ms Keys said the cafe remained operational with limited resources but their gas cookers allowed them to serve customers food.
She said because the shop had no Eftpos she had to keep a handwritten record of what customers owed, but it was a testament to the decency of Kooralbyn folk that they turned up the next day, many of them at 7.30am to pay their bills.