Kooralbyn residents were left without power or phone coverage

KOORALBYN residents are furious about being left without lights, phones, internet and refrigeration for almost 13 hours in the midst of a heatwave on February 12. 

Mother of six children April Johnson said the loss of power and communications left her feeling isolated and worried about what to do if something went wrong, especially since her 11-year-old son James had asthma.

“The landlines and all mobile phones went down about three hours after Energex cut the power,” she said.

“We didn’t even have emergency service on our phones, so what would we have done if anything went wrong?

“In the 1960s they didn’t have as much technology but at least there was the option to call an ambulance in an emergency.”

Businesses said they might have been able to prevent many of the ensuing problems if they had received notice from Energex that the power would be cut off to much of the town in order for crews to repair infrastructure damaged during the previous day’s storm.

Kooralbyn only has one doctor’s surgery and one pharmacy, both of which had to close when the power went out, with the doctor having to remain closed the next day due to lack of communications technology.

Pharmacist Mina Ibrahim said his shop was plunged into darkness when the power went out, making it impossible for him to work and the outage caused the loss of refrigerated medication.

“We tried to help out as much as we could without the computer but we had to close at 2pm on Monday,” he said.

“The next morning we were able to fill prescriptions though.”

An Energex spokesperson said it was normal procedure to notify businesses and residents of scheduled outages but in this case that was not possible.

“This situation was an after-effect of a severe storm,” he said.

“What happened was a tree branch fell onto power lines on Boomerang Drive at 11.37am and the power had to be cut.

“There was nothing we could do about it and we could still see it happen again in the next few days if another storm comes through.”

Area general manager for Telstra Darren Clark said the loss of phone coverage three hours after the power cut was due to the back-up generator running out.

“All our network sites require power to run,” he said.

“Our sites typically have battery or generators in case of a disruption to energy supplies.

“This back-up power is designed to provide some protection during local community power loss, but will not support the loss of power for extended periods.”

He said the vast majority of telecommunications services re-established progressively as power was restored to the area.

“The storm also damaged a cable that further impacted some services in Kooralbyn,” Mr Clark said.

“This was repaired in less than 24 hours.

“Severe weather is beyond our control but we do apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and assure them we worked as quickly as possible to restore their services.”