We had a fire at the only fuel station in our small town last night. As you can see from the pic below (hopefully I got it right) it was completely
We've only got a population of around 400 but we have a lot of trucks going through as well as "grey nomads" touring the outback in their
In a rural environment, there is usually plenty of diesel around in tanks on the various farms, however this is consumed fairly quickly by machinery
and by the long distances people have to cover to get anywhere. We're about 100 km away from the nearest town with fuel.
Less than a few hours after the fire, we had a few people stranded, after thinking they'd be able to fuel up once they got here. The truckies were
okay, they let each other know via CB that there was no fuel in town and they made their fuel stops earlier in other places.
However, quite a few locals with medical appointments have had to cancel their visits to the large regional hospitals - the paramedic and the police
will have to travel 100 km each way to fill up every day, leaving the town unattended during the two hours it takes to get to the fuel station and
back again. And let's hope that they are not called out to one of the more outlying areas which often requires all of their fuel in both the main
and reserve tanks, often only just scraping back into town.
Six part time workers at the fuel station here have lost their jobs - a devastating blow to a rural community with not a lot of employment options.
On a positive note - the local speed demons and their tyre burning donut activities seem to have come to a temporary halt.
No one knows when or how fuel supplies will be resumed. There is talk of the oil company stationing a large tanker here in a shed with temporary
eftpos facilities, however I understand that this is a solution being mooted by some of the locals, with no definitive answer from the oil company.
There is no public transport. Anything required from the shops other than the basic necessities, requires a planned shopping trip. Nearest big town
- 5 hours by road.
Prior to this fire, there was already a major problem with fuel theft from unattended tanks of trucks and machinery as well as theft from farms.
So, we're in a potential mini SitX right now. Food supplies still get delivered twice weekly to the grocery store (yep that's one, singular, lonely
grocery store!) by truck, but people in the outlying areas will have limited options to get into town to purchase them.
We will cope of course, and we know that this is only a temporary setback of maybe a month or two. I hope. No one really knows what the servo owners
are going to do particularly since they are of retirement age, and had the business up for sale. Maybe the oil company will take pity on a small
community of 400 people, and simply rebuild the station and offer it out to lease. Yeah. Right.
There is a strong spirit of co-operation here in the bush, but it will be interesting to see how things pan out and the mechanisms that the community
employs to get through this. However, multiply this scenario by several big cities, and suddenly I'm very, very glad to be stuck here in the outback.
Isolation or not. If a certain apprehension and uncertainty can take hold of people out here, who are used to doing it tough, and whose livelihoods
have come to depend so deeply on a ready supply of fuel, then I really don't like to think of the outcome in a large city with a shut down fuel
delivery system. Certainly, the worry has already started.
It's our own mini oil shock and it'll be interesting exercise to see how things pan out and how people cope. I'll keep you posted.
[edit on 11-8-2009 by tangotemper]
[edit on 11-8-2009 by tangotemper]