Supermarket is in a corner as it fights rules that block recovery funds

ABOVE: Woodburn IGA during the floods in 2022. Photo: Trina Boland

Susanna Freymark

Tania Hundy is doing everything she can to reopen the corner supermarket in Woodburn.

Tania and Neale Hundy had finished renovating the IGA supermarket 13 months before the March floods last year.

“We were ill-equipped for the floods,” Ms Hundy said.

They applied for State Government flood recovery grants.

Their first application for a grant for a medium-sized business was rejected because they were one and half people short of the required staff numbers.

“Since then, we have applied for two more business grants,” Ms Hundy said.

The problem with the Back to Business Grant and the Small Business Grant was you have to spend the money before you get the grant, she said.

The Hundys don’t have that sort of cash to pay upfront.

The plan is to install concrete tilt panels in the shop as part of its flood-proofing. This will be costly but means the clean-up after a flood will be quicker and easier.

Ms Hundy spoke at the Richmond Valley Council meeting on Tuesday, April 18.

She thanked the council for its advocacy as the Hundys seek financial help from the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.

A petition of 200 signatures in support of the supermarket was sent to the corporation.

In the letter to NRRC chief executive David Witherdin, council wrote:

“The Woodburn IGA is one of our critical businesses that is unfortunately facing funding challenges which are hindering their recovery journey… like most businesses in Woodburn, they were unable to afford flood insurance.”

The council estimates that the IGA is facing recovery expenses of $750,000–$1million.

Since the floods, large businesses such as Norco and Sunshine Sugar have received millions of dollars for flood recovery and while these businesses employ a large number of people, the IGA cannot recover without some kind of government support.

At the council meeting, general manager Vaughan Macdonald said they have been advocating for businesses in Woodburn since the flood.

“A supermarket and service station are what Woodburn needs,” Mr Macdonald said.

“We’ve been working closely with the service station owners. This is a high risk business.”

Mayor Robert Mustow said “we will push the hardest to get a result for Woodburn and surrounding areas”.

Will Woodburn get a servo?

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