Taking on the flood

While they don’t seem to be getting much in the way of media attention, the emergency service heroes dealing with the Queensland floods include the hundreds of ENERGEX and Ergon Energy crews working in abysmal conditions and through the nights to restore power to stricken householders and businesses.

In Toowoomba, location of the “inland tsunami” that captured national and global attention, for example, Ergon was able to report by Wednesday (12th) that it had restored power to all homes and all but 20 businesses in the CBD where access was impossible.

In Brisbane and Ipswich, where urban density meant the the greatest impact was felt in terms of customers without power, ENERGEX mobilised 400 crews, despatching them by road and air to the worst-affected areas, and restored power to 140,000 customers in the first three days of the south-east region emergency. It used eight helicopters to put crews in to the Lockyer Valley, scene of the worst impact in terms of lives lost, and the Brisbane Valley. (At the height of the emergency 8,000 homes and businesses in the valleys were powerless, with restoration work hampered by flooded roads and fields and impassable access tracks.) By Friday the network business was able to report that it had restored power to 170,000 south-east Queensland homes and businesses since the flood peaked and was working on another 66,000, two-thirds of them in the Brisbane flood plain. “Access issues,” the corporation said, were still hampering its work along the Bremer and Brisbane rivers.

One of the substantial ongoing issues for power users after the waters recede will be getting premises inspected by licensed electricians. ENERGEX is warning that this could be an important issue for office blocks, factories and other businesses, as well as homes, where the floodwaters may have imposed significant damage on circuitry and appliances.

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