I’d be guessing $5–10,000 in damage and stock and theft of property.
— Paul Burfitt
BEING looted by “scum” in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie did not stop Airlie Beach Tree House staff from trying to do their bit for the community.
Between midday and 6pm on Wednesday (March 29), in broad daylight, thieves were able to break into the Airlie Beach Tree House and neighbouring Cafe Cool Lala, although they failed to gain access to Mr Bones pizza shop. Up to 60–70 bottles of spirits and wine were taken from Airlie Tree House while cash and alcohol was cleaned out of Cafe Cool Lala.
Airlie Tree House owner Paul Burfitt said his business suffered minimal cyclone-related damage, but the theft had set him back substantially.
“These mongrels came in and used a crowbar to jam the lock and pop the window out of frame and now we have to repair. It completely takes your faith in humanity,” he said.
“I’d be guessing $5–10,000 in damage and stock and theft of property.”
Despite this, Airlie Tree House staff still found room in their hearts to assist the wider Airlie community.
From 8am on Thursday, their staff were busy serving bacon and egg sandwiches for people in the community for $5.
However, moments after setting up, a council staff member informed them they could not operate due to a lack of running water – for hygiene purposes.
Mr Burfitt said in the meantime he would be able to keep his food cold with a generator and accumulate sufficient water to continue to serve the community.
A Whitsunday Regional Council spokesperson confirmed a council officer did speak to Airlie Tree House staff and stressed food hygiene was vital.
“It’s a real safety concern with food hygiene to have premises running without running water, it’s a very important part of hygiene and food safety requirements,” the spokesperson said.
Anyone who witnessed suspicious activity among Airlie Beach Tree House, Cafe Cool Lala and Mr Bones is urged to call the Whitsunday Police Station on 4948 8888. WITHIN one week of Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling relocating to Stewart Drive, Cyclone Debbie struck hard.
The ceiling came down, water poured in and ventilation and lights shattered over desks.
Subsequently, the community service will now operate from 121 Shute Harbour Road Business Centre on the ground floor next to Whitsunday Ultrasound.
WCC CEO Steve Alexander said the makeshift office would be temporarily available until repairs could be completed.
“I met the assessor and builder on Sunday and they indicated it could be 6-8 weeks before they even start the work,” he said.
Mr Alexander said while domestic violence issues were the main focus of the facility, counsellors were able to offer a helping hand to people in the community experiencing hardship.
“What I’ve instructed our staff to do is to send counsellors to disaster recovery centres which has proven beneficial for people,” he said.
“There have been many people who spoke to our counsellors during lunch and all we can do is support the community the best we can.
“I’m trying to get a hold of our stakeholders to find out if there are any limits as to stepping outside the square and offering community support which might be outside our funding.”
The temporary WCC office is expected to be fully operational when power returns from 9am-5pm Monday next week.
NEW LOCATION: Heather Carr, Acacia Prince-Pike, Mandy Fisher, Sylvia Powell, Poppy Annear and Steve Alexander stand near the temporary Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling office.