John Cummings could only stand by and watch as workers at his IGA Glengarry supermarket threw out more than 200 kilograms of cut beef and 500 kilograms of chicken.
Then went 50 two litre ice cream tubs, 60 cartons of milk and about 15 cartons of frozen vegetables along with other perishable items.
His was only one business among many that were badly affected by the power being knocked out in last week’s storm.
Western Power says 158,000 customers including houses, schools and universities, were hit by power outages.
It took the company four days to fully restore what the storm knocked out in minutes.
While Mr Cummings was counting the cost, Ken Brown was at the centre of the recovery effort.
As Western Power’s General Manager System Management it was his task to get the power back on as soon as possible and he needed all hands on deck.
“We geared up to make sure we had emergency crews available,” he says.
With lightning strikes lasting through the night, Mr Brown says the recovery effort was slowed because there was a heightened level of risk affecting maintenance crews.
“The number one issue is safety so that any wires that are down must be fixed as soon as possible or at least made safe. We try and get as many hazards out of the way before restoring.
The storm caused about 900 hazards which caused high voltage areas to automatically shut down.
“500 were house wires down and the other 400 were trees in mains, leaning poles, arcing wires,” Mr Brown says.
“Traffic lights were out, sewerage pumping stations and communications areas so we were trying to get those back as fast as we could,” he says.
He says this was the most severe storm he had been faced with in more than 15 years and it was the largest event in terms of resources and logistics.
To ensure the public didn’t touch fallen powerlines which could still be live, police and 35 specialist Western Power staff were sent to the locations and waited for emergency crews to come and fix the fallen lines.
More than 500 workers from Western Power were involved on the ground in the recovery effort.
Contractors, crews and resources were brought in from country Western Australia and about 30 people from Victoria to help with the recovery effort.
Mr Brown says the recovery effort went well given the scale of the operation but Western Power will be doing a full debrief to see what needs to be done for the next big storm.
Back at the supermarket, the costs were mounting.
Mr Cummings estimates more than $15,000 of meat alone had to be thrown out and he says because people didn’t have power, they weren’t buying perishable items like milk and frozen goods.
“Sales were poor. People were eating hand-to-mouth because they had no fridge and they couldn’t cook because they had no power.”
He is still waiting to hear whether insurance will cover the store’s losses.
Mr Cummings estimates the supermarket industry lost sales somewhere between $100 million and $150 million.
In the meantime, Mr Cummings and Perth supermarkets have a new set of challenges with customers’ back pockets further affected by a limited supply of some fresh fruit and vegetables because the storm wiped out some crops.
The damage bill from last week’s storm has spiralled to more than $650 million after nearly 90,000 claims were made to insurance companies.
The initial cost of the storm was $100 million but the Insurance Council of Australia says that figure has kept rising.
The revised estimate comes a day after the State Government announced changes to the way hail-damaged cars are classified by insurers.
Under the temporary changes, people can continue driving their car once it has been written off if the damage is deemed cosmetic.