In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Kirrily Ergon Energy deployed 750 crews who have worked long hours in severe conditions for six days to restore power to the 66,000 customers affected by the storm.
Ergon Energy General Manager Field Delivery, Chris Hooper, who led the emergency response, said that it had been an outstanding effort to support customers and communities across the impact zone – in Townsville, Burdekin, Ingham, Charters Towers and the Whitsunday region.
“Our crews have done themselves proud and kept everyone safe while doing high-risk work in the most extreme conditions you can imagine,” Mr Hooper said.
“When the cyclone was forecast we had told customers to be prepared for a week or more without power and our crews have safely reconnected the last customers within six days, even after storms set them back on the home stretch.
“Around 100,000 lightning strikes were recorded during yesterday’s storms, which caused more outages in Townsville and Charters Towers and prevented our crews from being able to safely complete repairs and restoration to the final one per cent of customers who lost power in the cyclone.
“We appreciate the patience and resilience of our customers in the worst-affected suburbs to the north and south of Townsville, where trees caused a lot of damage to the electricity network, and where storms threw a late spanner in the works yesterday.
“For our crews sweating buckets to restore your power, there’s nothing like the community’s reaction when the lights and air-conditioning come back on – the cheers in the street are a reminder of why they do what they do.”
Ergon said that while it takes heat safety very seriously and trucks are stocked with water and eskies, customers bearing gifts of cold drinks and ice blocks were a welcome sight at worksites across the disaster zone.
“When Mother Nature is at her worst, some people are at their best and your acts of kindness and community spirit give our local and travelling crews a big lift in tough conditions.
“One young lad in Railway Estate, Trae, raided his own piggy bank so he could give ice blocks to crews working in his neighbourhood – it goes to show the youngest members of our community can teach us a thing or two about resilience and kindness.
“Unfortunately we’ve also had some instances of people abusing our crews and members of the 24/7 Faults Team who answer the phones, so we’d like to remind everyone that there is no excuse for abuse.
“Many members of our local teams lost power themselves and others travelled hundreds of kilometres to support communities at the other end of the state – we go to great lengths to get your power back on and your support is appreciated.
“We’d also like to thank all our partners in disaster response for their support – the Local Disaster Management Groups, Councils, emergency services, as well as our vegetation management, traffic control and air service contractors.”
After responding to back-to-back natural disasters in the Sunshine State, including two cyclones and major floods in the north, Ergon is reminding people it pays to be prepared for severe weather.
“No electricity network in the world is weather-proof, regardless of whether the powerlines are overhead or underground, so you need a back-up plan for your household or business and that may include a generator that has the capacity to meet your needs.”
Featured image: Ergon crews performing repair works. Image credit: Ergon Energy.