The community of Melbourne’s west has always been characterised by a strong spirit of people coming together to help one another.
This community-mindedness was brought to the fore during the recent floods experienced by Maribyrnong residents in October 2022.
After seeing the devastation caused by the flood waters, Pradeep Tiwari, one of the managers of Bharat Traders International in West Footscray and president of the West Footscray Traders Association, quickly stepped into action.
“I was brought up by my parents to always jump in and help if you see a need. As a child, I’d watch them giving out free groceries from their shop, and they’d say to me,
‘If you have the tools, power and knowledge to help someone today, you should do it’.”
In October, the West Footscray Traders Association had planned to hold a Diwali festival at Footscray Park. The event got cancelled when the river burst its banks, while at the same time, flood-affected residents were left with no power.
“Because we had been planning the festival, I had connections as to where to source extra generators and high-pressure hoses. So I went around in my car, picked up the equipment from around Melbourne, and delivered them to the Maribyrnong Community Centre.
“I also called Mr Quick Whip’s ice cream truck and Elvize’s Coffee Cuizine, who were supposed to be catering our festival, and redirected them to the recovery centre to provide free ice creams and coffee to people in the area.”
With the support of Maribyrnong Council, other local hospitality businesses were able to offer free food and coffee to residents, volunteers and flood-relief workers.
The owners of Braybrook’s Happy Camper Pizza, Remi Pham and Sonia Lear, didn’t hesitate when the call for help came in. They knew first-hand what it was like to experience devastating loss after a fire ripped through their Braybrook warehouse in December 2021.
“When an explosion destroyed our food trucks and the warehouse, we were blown away by the support we received from the local community. They helped us to rebuild our business so that we could keep going.
“Serving our pizzas to flood-affected locals and the clean-up crew was our chance to give back.”
George Xanthis from Seddon’s Alfa Cafe received an urgent call for help the day after the floods.
“At 10am I was asked what catering we could urgently deliver to Maribyrnong Community Centre in two hours. Luckily, we run a catering service, so we were able to provide about 500 pieces of hot food and 100 sandwiches at short notice.
“We ended up helping to feed residents and emergency services workers for twenty days straight, and I did a lot of the deliveries myself.”
Other Maribyrnong-based businesses that helped out included Sliders on Tyres, who roamed the streets near Anglers Tavern offering free burgers and chips for the flood-affected residents, West Footscray cafe Dodo’s Delights and Yarraville coffee catering company Coffee On Cue.
Hesi Jimbo, who had just launched their food truck in Coulson Gardens in Maribyrnong a week before the flood, quickly took on the job to cook up gluten-free food and fed first responders at Maribyrnong Community Centre and people at the volunteer hub at Coulson Gardens.
Yia Yia’s Souvlaki travelled around the flood-affected area for a week serving souvlakis and salad boxes. Tina Mobrici from Yia Yia’s Souvlaki said, “When I drove down some of those streets, it looked like a war zone. All these people’s furniture and belongings, just sitting there. They had no electricity, no gas, nothing. I thought the least we could do is get them fed.”
Bharat Traders International, 580 Barkly St, West Footscray
Happy Camper Pizza, 9 Errol St, Braybrook
Alfa Cafe, 97 Victoria St, Seddon and 42 Anderson St, Yarraville
Slider on Tyres, 2/178 Cowper St, Footscray
Dodo’s Delights, 169 Sunshine Rd, West Footscray
Coffee on Cue, 19 Hall St, Yarraville
Hesi Jimbo, The Lot Beer Garden, 448-462 Mt Alexander Rd, Ascot Vale
Yia Yia’s Souvlaki, 31-33 Cranwell Street, Maribyrnong
Mr Quick Whip, 25/266 Osborne Ave, Clayton South
Elvize’s Coffee Cuizine, Lyndhurst