Telecommunications staff and repairs are set to be prioritised as the devastating Queensland floods recede.
According to Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, the State now faced a “reconstruction task of post-war proportions”.
“We are trying to get utilities reconnected,” she said. “Can I assure people in each of these towns that despite the search and rescue efforts, utilities trades people will be going into today, they will be given some priority by police.”
Bligh said broken telco services had been a particularly major issue in the Lockyer valley in the areas of Gatton, Helidon and Grantham where fixed line and mobile services were disrupted.
“These are people in desperate circumstances and they have been unable to make or receive mobile phone calls,” she said. “Today we’ve got temporary mobile phone towers being erected and I hope that assists in ensuring they don’t feel quite as alone as they might have in the last couple of days.”
It hasn’t been easy going for any of the telecommunications companies, with Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA) experiencing more breakdowns than its rivals, Telstra and Optus.
One Telstra crew faced exceptional difficulties when attempting to repair a damaged pit west of Mackay in Queensland. Five dangerous red-bellied black snakes were found wrapped around piping and hiding from the rains.
Telstra was also forced to evacuate up to 2000 staff from Brisbane as the waters rose.
But while the worst is over for most of the State, several towns and regions will continue to face rising waters.
“I’m very pleased that the river levels in all other river systems are now falling but in Goondiwindi and Condamine we see them rising,” she added. “In the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley region, while the water has receded, the kind of devastation it has left if only now becoming fully clear to everybody in the valley.”