Just ten days after Cyclone Marcia exacted her fury on the Capricorn Coast and Rockhampton region, all power was restored to those affected, where it has been safe to do so (QLD).
Crews have continued to operate in smaller, remote, rural pockets. All Ergon Energy customers are back on supply either by network or generation support a day ahead of scheduled restoration, Incident Response Manager Steve Leighton said.
In parallel with this, crews are moving around the area and reconnecting premises that have had structural damage repaired by contractors and have been deemed safe to re-supply.
Generation support has been offered to customers in areas where the damage to our network is such that sections of it have to be rebuilt.
“The Byfield community is being supplied by one of our high voltage Pegasus network injection units which will supply the small community north of Yeppoon while some 30 kms of damaged network is rebuilt – a task expected to take about a week and a half to complete,” said Mr Leighton.
A similar unit was used to supply customers from Marlborough through to Clairview while the front end of the network was repaired.
“Considering where we were after Marcia cut her destructive path through the region, knocking out power to over 65,000 customers, it is a great position to be in and to have played such a vital role in getting the community back on its feet and back to normality.
“The reception and reaction from the community as crews worked throughout the area progressively restoring power was truly outstanding and the numerous acts of generosity, kindness, support, goodwill and appreciation from the public was heartwarming to witness, particularly at a time when most people had their own share of adversity and harrowing experiences to deal with.”
Ergon’s restoration team grew steadily up to 1,000 field staff working out of two staging posts at Western Street Army Barracks and the Mecure grounds at Yeppoon. A small team of support staff behind the scenes were equally vital to the success of the restoration exercise managing the response and ensuring the crews were fed, watered and housed.
Mr Leighton said over there was immense damage done to Ergon’s network with over 2300 power lines brought down by the cyclonic winds that accompanied Marcia.
Initial work was to firstly assess and scope the damage and make safe the numerous incidents of fallen power lines.
“It really was a case of having to start at the start and end at the end,” he said.
“We had to firstly reestablish high voltage supply to our major zone substations so that we could then commence getting power back into the cities, towns, suburbs and rural locations. Priority was then given to feeders that supply sewerage and water pumping stations followed by hospitals and major supermarkets – in other words, things that sustain a community in the initial stages.”
In parallel with the restoration effort, a lot of work was put into ensuring that the smaller outlying communities had access to information on restoration progress in their areas with the local Council, Ergon Energy and other emergency staff conducting community meetings throughout the region.