Ergon Energy has begun the challenge of restoring power to the Townsville community after an unprecedented and catastrophic flood that impacted the power supply to 16,500 customers at its peak on February 4.
Ergon area manager Wayne Alderman said Ergon had restored power to about 2000 customers by the afternoon on February 4 in fringe areas where flooding was minor and there was no damage to the network.
At least 9,000 homes are still without power, according to the ABC.
Alderman cautioned residents that it would be a much longer process in low-lying areas where the electricity network was inundated.
“Floodwaters will need to recede before crews can get in and do damage assessments and emergency repairs,” he said.
“We’ll restore power when it is safe to do so, but in many cases it will not be a quick fix and people should be prepared for delays if weather conditions deteriorate.
Related article: EnergyAustralia explains reasons for blackouts
“We really appreciate the community’s patience and support at times like this.”
Mr Alderman said most customers impacted were in flooded areas where sections of the network were de-energised for public safety.
“The Hermit Park substation, which supplies several thousand customers, was switched off when water entered the switchyard late yesterday,” he said.
“By switching the substation off before it was inundated, we reduced the risk of major flood damage which takes a lot longer to repair, so we’ll be able to restore power to customers much sooner and safely,” he said.
Mr Alderman said Ergon had to respond to rapidly changing conditions and de-energise at short notice in many parts of Townsville.
“While we appreciate this can be frustrating for customers, I can assure them their safety is at the heart of what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’re part of this community, so we understand what they’re going through and we’re here to support them.”
Mr Alderman said that while it seemed likely the worst of the flooding had passed, severe weather warnings remained in place across the region and he urged residents to continue watching out for weather warnings, follow any directions from emergency services and be prepared for power interruptions.
Related article: The photograph that’s just as powerful 50 years on
“Ergon is working closely with emergency services and the Local Disaster Management Group to keep the community safe during this unprecedented and unpredictable weather event,” he said.
“Our number one priority is to keep everyone safe around the electricity network, including the community, first responders and our restoration crews.”
If you’re in a flood zone:
- Don’t use switches or electrical appliances that are wet.
- Don’t use any electrical appliance or installation with wet hands, or if you are standing in water, or in bare feet
- Switch off appliances at the wall if there is a threat of water entering your premises.
- Have any appliances or wiring which has been wet checked by a qualified electrician before using.
- Report any shocks or tingles to Ergon immediately by calling 13 16 70.
- Use generators with particular care – including not connecting a generator to household wiring unless a proper isolation system has been set up on wiring by an electrician to ensure power is not fed back into Ergon’s system. https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/home-safety/generator-safety-and-use
- Use solar PV systems safely https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/home-safety/solar-power-safety
For additional flood safety advice, go to https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/home-safety/flood-safety