Emerald community strong after storm

Sister and brother Tia and Brock Kirby of Cockatoo took the opportunity to charge seven different devices at the Emerald Library on Friday 11 June.

By Shelby Brooks

The townsfolk of Emerald have returned to the main street with enthusiasm and grit following Wednesday’s storm damage.

Although thousands of people are still without power in their homes, some businesses in the main street of Emerald were operating Friday 11 June, the first day after lockdown restrictions eased.

Will Grogan, manager of The General Food Store, said the café had been exceptionally busy with people looking for a warm coffee and hot feed.

“It’s been a busy morning with people coming in to warmup from their cold homes,” employee Jaz Horne said.

“It is so nice to have the doors open and the vibe back.”

Emerald Ritchies IGA manager Brett Reid said the supermarket had sold out of torches, batteries and firewood, however another delivery was coming in Saturday 12 June.

Ice has also been a popular item for people trying to keep perishable and frozen foods.

The Emerald Library was also buzzing with activity, with many people calling in to charge devices and use internet services.

Library manager Jessica Nichols said it showed the importance of libraries during times of need.

“We’ve had people in calling insurance companies, calling relatives to make sure they’re ok,” she said.

“It shows the importance of a library during an emergency. We’re the centre of community where people can come to connect.”

Ms Nichols said there had been a large spike in borrowing books because people didn’t have much else to entertain themselves with without power.

“They’re borrowing books so they can read them in candlelight tonight,” Ms Nichols said.

“We also hope people pop in to say hello if they’re feeling isolated.

“There’s a misconception that the library is a quiet place with scary librarians. That’s not the case at all its more of a community place to meet.”

A drop-in centre was also opened at Cardinia Council’s Hills Hub in Emerald for residents affected by the recent storm.

The centre features space for residents to warm up, charge phones and grab a tea or coffee.

The drop-in centre is open from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.