• Emergency services extinguishing the blaze a blaze at Walgett's IGA superMarket last year. (Supplied. )Source: Supplied.
Locals, who are already battling the drought, have been left no option but to travel at least 80km for food and supplies.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV News
6 Jun 2019 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2019 - 6:39 PM

Walgett has struggled to get enough water because of the drought, and now the northern NSW town is in “panic mode” because it’s lost its main supply of food.

The small community suffered a devastating blow on Wednesday when its only supermarket was gutted by fire.

The blaze left those living in Walgett and surrounds with no other option but to travel at least 80km to Lightning Ridge for even the most basic supplies.

"In the short term, it's going to create a lot of havoc," Walgett Shire Council mayor Manuel Martinez said.

"These little communities suffer so much and when you've got to travel 80km or 110km to the nearest shopping centre, just to get your basics, it's a real blow."

While the loss is a setback Walgett can ill-afford, Mr Martinez says his community is used to getting knocked down and getting back up again.

"You just brush yourself off and away you go," he said.

"It's very devastating for our little shire but we can just look forward and believe and look into the future and be positive."

Locals held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and came up with the idea of a free bus service, to be run by the council, to transport people to nearby Coonamble.

They are also planning a pop-up market to sell main supplies.

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Gamilaroi woman Vanessa Hickey said the community were initially in a “panicky mode” but had rallied together.

“I love it, its the way we should always be, altogether, all the time,” she told NITV.

“We should just be pulling together, it’s good when we pull together, we’ve got a happy little community, I love Walgett.”.

Western NSW Minister Adam Marshall said having to travel 80km for groceries may as well be 800 or 8000km because many don't have the means to get there.

"The township of Walgett is already on its knees," he told state parliament.

"The government will stand by that community and will work ... to make sure that no one in Walgett is adversely affected by this extra blow it received."

The town has had to rely on bore water for almost 18 months after its reservoirs reached critically-low levels. There are plans to truck bottled water into Walgett.

With AAP

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