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Community saves 20,000 pounds of products after outage threatens Rankin Inlet Northern Store

It was all hands on deck to keep thousands of dollars worth of food from going bad when three-phase power was lost to the Northern store in Rankin Inlet early on the morning of Sept. 1.

Northern spokesperson Ellen Curtis of Winnipeg, MB, said all refrigeration was down in the store with the outage, along with most lighting and all other electrical systems

Staff and volunteers helped in a food recover effort after a power outage at the Northern store in Rankin Inlet early on the morning of Sept. 1.
NNSL file photo

She said as luck would have it, there were no linesmen in town on the day of the power outage.

“The earliest they could arrive was on the 1:00 p.m. flight, and that was iffy due to weather,” said Curtis.

“Turns out they didn’t get in until the next day.

“There were multiple concerns among our staff that morning, and one of the primary ones was how to handle the idea of the perishable food items and that was when they reached out to the women’s shelter to lend a hand.”

Curtis said staff members closed the store and focused on saving what refrigerated and frozen products they could.

She said the Northern also wanted to donate the rest of the food items while they were still safe to consume

“Joyce Kent from the Kataujaq Society Safe Shelter co-ordinated the food donations -- approximately $10,000 worth of perishables -- which, I think, went to both families and organizations within the town at Joyce's discretion

“The perishables went to wherever Joyce saw a need. We completely trusted her to distribute it equitably within the community.

“Bruno Laverdure of Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine sent a 40’ cold container, as well, to help us out and that was just so wonderful of them to do that for us.

“They took one from their site and hauled it on down to us. We got it set up to use like a giant refrigerator as we moved everything from our cold storage into it.”

Curtis said their regular freight handler in Rankin, Sarliaq, was very modest about the role it played in helping.

However, she said, the company (Richard Connelly) stepped right up when the Northern needed it.

“They escorted the container into town and actually used their crane to offload the storage from the flatbed for us.

“Everyone on our team worked very hard on this to get all the product onto pallets, wrap-it up and then load it all in. There were a ton of people helping out.

“It was a lot of work but we were able to save 20,000 pounds of temperature-sensitive product, including medication.”

“It was absolutely heartwarming to see everyone help out… and people were just wonderful.”