Flooding is a relatively regular event in the Mid North Coast of NSW, but floods of March 2021 broke the banks and broke the records. Labelled a ‘one–in-one-hundred-year’ event, the floods led the area to be declared a Natural Disaster Zone. With hundreds of houses destroyed and thousands more inundated, Essential Energy employees were once again called to respond to help their community.
Essential Energy’s response focused on two key aspects – ensuring people in the community stayed safe in the extremely dangerous combination of water and electricity, and steadily returning power to people.
Crews battled demanding conditions as the torrential rain, gale force winds and raging rivers had knocked over power poles, destroyed bridges, caused landslides over roads and turned farmland into inaccessible boggy fields. Helicopters and drones helped expand the access for ground-based crews by re-stringing lines and dropping crews into safely accessible areas.
At one point, the treacherous combination of rain, winds and flooding caused more than 12,000 homes and businesses to lose power. Over twelve days, 57,000 customers lost power and Essential Energy crews restored supply to more than 2200 customers who had to have their properties’ electrical systems checked to ensure they could be safely re-energised.
From the devastation came stories of communities rallying together to support each other and Essential Energy was no different.
In the aftermath of the floods, Essential Energy employees delivered generators, fuel and charging cables to evacuation centres and community groups; called vulnerable customers to check on their welfare; and help rally local electrical contractors with safe boat transport to some isolated areas. Employees also volunteered their own time (or donated their volunteer leave) through local organisations like the SES and Rotary to personally help the thousands of flood victims.
The flood waters may have receded, but Essential Energy remains committed to supporting customers affected by this devastating event over the coming weeks and months. This includes:
- Waiving reconnection fees for customers who have had to be disconnected from the network for safety reasons
- Pausing all Disconnections for Non-Payment in flood affected areas while this natural disaster continues
- Pausing customer communications regarding private asset defects in flood-affected areas.
- Repairing or replacing any private assets which have been damaged or destroyed by flooding on a like-for-like basis at our cost.
- Contributing $600 toward re-connecting to our network for customers whose house has been lost.