South Australia continues to be battered by one of the worst storms in 50 years and small businesses across the state were forced to close their doors yesterday – with some looking at almost two whole days without trade.
Over one an a half million South Australian residents were left without power around 3:30pm yesterday, as winds up to 140 kilometres per hour took down three key transmission lines in the Port Augusta region, reports Fairfax.
SA Premier Jay Weatherill told media after an emergency council meeting that the power network was shut down to “protect itself”.
“It is likely that the southern part of the state – that is south of the break – will be restored first, the northern part of the state is likely to take longer,” Mr Weatherill said.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
Businesses took to social media to inform customers their doors would be closing early, and a number of websites were also offline.
“Due to the state-wide power outage and unsafe conditions on the roads, we had to close early. We hope to be back in action tomorrow morning! Stay safe Adelaide,” said local florist Tynte Flowers in a Facebook post.
A nationwide website used by off-road racing enthusiasts informed its users that its website was offline, because the website’s data servers were based in South Australia.
Comment writers had some suggestions on how to get the website back up and running, one saying, “What about you run a extension lead to Victoria?”
However, some businesses kept on going, with Findon-based restaurant Charcoal Pit breaking out work lights to keep on grilling.
A cheesed-off business keeps on churning
Despite Weatherill saying the south of the state would receive power first, Sheree Sullivan from Lobethal-based cheese factory Udder Delights told SmartCompany the factory was still without power.
“It’s been a bit difficult, as a cheese factory essentially runs off power, but we had some backup generators so we were prepared,” Sullivan said.
The blackout occurred after yesterday’s cheese production had finished, so Wednesday’s production was unaffected.
Two months earlier the factory went through an enforced blackout due to works on power lines nearby, so the business was prepared for the unexpected downtime.
However, Sullivan realised the two small generators used by the factory was not going to be enough, and a larger one was desperately needed.
“My husband was desperately searching for someone who could hire us a bigger generator, and as the whole state was out of power, you can imagine that was difficult,” she says.
At 9:00pm last night, a generator was found and the cheese was safe.
As power is yet to be restored, today’s production has been halted. With cheese orders that have to be completed, Sullivan is not looking forward to a day’s delay in schedule.
“We’ll have to open on Saturday, which means we’ll have to pay award rates to our staff. We have milk sitting here that needs to be turned into cheese, so we can’t afford not to open,” Sullivan says.
“Our cool room stays cold for a day or so even without power, so thankfully we can save our stock.”
Another challenge for the factory is its position. It sits literally on top of a local river, which has been steadily rising with the torrential rain.
“About two weeks ago it was sitting about three metres below us, now it’s lapping at our foundations,” Sullivan says.
“We use a lot of salt to make cheese, and we have two pallets of salt we’re willing to sacrifice as sandbags if need be.”
The factory has also been completely cut off from telecommunications, with both internet and phone lines down. Sullivan has resorted to other methods to contact her staff.
“I’ve been using Facebook Messenger to talk to my staff, and hopefully all our clients realise I’m still online that way,” she says.
“We’ve essentially had to spend a day managing power and watching water levels instead of doing business.”
Power is gradually returning to residents across the state.