I’d be guess­ing $5–10,000 in dam­age and stock and theft of prop­erty.

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

— 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.

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