No refrigeration, no lights, no phones, no access to the volunteer database – for four days.
Marilyn Herrmann said she’s “frustrated as all hell” after the Surrey Food Bank (SFB) lost power in Saturday’s wind storm.
Interviewed over the phone at her home Tuesday – where she was charging her cellphone – the executive director of the SFB said the North Surrey charity took a big hit after a tree next door took out a power pole on SFB property.
Even after the pole was replaced by BC Hydro on Monday evening, the lines weren’t installed properly and just dangled on cars in the parking lot.
By Tuesday, staff and volunteers were forced to throw away more than $2,000 worth of eggs, dairy products and other perishable foods.
Volunteer activity in the unlit warehouse has been kept to a minimum, and 165 clients who came in earlier in the week have been given the most basic of non-perishable foods. No one has been turned away yet.
“What we can get to, we’re giving,” Herrmann said.
The SFB serves 14,000 clients each month.
She said one man who came for help this week was among dozens of new clients who lost their perishables at home when their power went out.
Power was finally back up at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, said Herrmann.
“Staff are tired, but they’re whipping around doing what they have to do.”
Herrmann said that the coolers need until today (Friday) to be ready for perishable goods – if they’re put in sooner, it will take longer for the refrigerators to cool down.
Herrmann is asking donors to not bring in any perishable goods until early next week, because perishables brought in before the weekend would be unused until Monday anyway.
Non-perishable goods are welcome at any time – as well as online and cash donations to make up for the perishable losses during the power outage.
Herrmann said that on Wednesday, three large corporate donations were offered, and the Overwaitea Food Group was making plans to replenish SFB stocks.
“That’s wonderful,” she said. “(There’s) wonderful community support again.”
Herrmann said a lesson has been learned from the experience – at the very least, she’ll look into buying a generator.
“We as an organization need to be better prepared for these things,” she said. “We are an essential service. We can’t do this again.”