As the waters engulfed Eugowra in November 2022, the reality of an “inland tsunami” and the need to literally run for their lives hit residents hard.  More than a year on residents have taken the time to recognise and thank local fuel supplier Lowes Petroleum who played a critical role in the towns rapid recovery.

Colin Greenhalgh, a Eugowra resident says its a day he will never forget.  “I don’t think any of us could imagine what was about to hit, nor the devastation that would follow. It happened so fast, and everything was dragged in its path. Even the town’s only self-serve fuel kiosk was swept away, and pumps torn from the bowser.”

As the waters receded Lowes Petroleum immediately jumped to action to ensure the town, and emergency services had access to fuel to power the recovery.

NSW Operations Manager Matt Knowles was in Eugowra as soon as he could gain access.

“We were aware there was a weather event and were monitoring our equipment, but expected nothing like this,” he said.  “Our Orange depot saw the Eugowra pump go offline and while there was infrastructure damage, the fuel tanks themselves were never under threat. Although they did move a bit with the force of the water, they are self-bunded tanks which are doubled walled.

“We managed to set up a makeshift pump, purchasing batteries and wiring, so we could dispense fuel to rescue vehicles as quickly as possible. People also needed fuel for generators and other rescue equipment so there was high demand for fuel there and then.

“We were also able to dispense $10,000 worth of fuel donated by local radio station WSFM. We had to manually pump fuel for about six months to ensure supply as it was needed. When demand slowed down as critical recovery work was completed, we could then close it completely for a few weeks to rebuild it.”

Lowes Petroleum committed to spending over $150,000 creating a new permanent site – something both Mr Greenhalgh and Mr Knowles agree is critical to the town’s ongoing liveability. The nearest fuel is available half an hour away at Forbes.

“Having fuel available in town contributes to the accessibility, convenience, and overall infrastructure that supports the needs of residents,” Mr Knowles said. For Colin, who’s rural merchandise business sells everything from fertiliser and irrigation equipment to clothing and footwear to local farmers and townsfolk, he cannot emphasise how important that pump is.

“It’s incredibly important and we all felt the inconvenience when it was closed for that short time to get back up and running again,” he said. “I would talk to around 25 people a day through my business and every one of us agrees – access to essential services is crucial for any town.  The unmanned fuel facility, provided by Lowes bp, does just that and can be used by everyone in our community.  It would have been easy for Lowes to quit the town, but we are very glad they didn’t.”

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)