As a born and bred North Queenslander I know firsthand the devastating effect a natural disaster like Tropical Cyclone Debbie can have on a community.

We have been preparing for Debbie’s arrival for the past week and have a number of extra resources ready to go in the area, including three Cell on Wheels to provide enhanced mobile coverage; a Mobile Exchange on Wheels; a mobile store on wheels, additional portable generators; and other equipment including Wi-Fi hotspots and additional satellite phones.

Local teams are preparing to visit evacuation centres when it is safe, and have collected a range of phone chargers, interim devices and spare SIM cards to distribute to customers.

As soon as the Emergency Services declare it’s safe our field technicians will be working as fast as they can to restore services and I’d like to assure our customers in the area we will be doing everything we can to restore their services as quickly as possible.

This will be a big task and I thank them for their patience.

Once Cyclone Debbie passes, the biggest impact to our customers’ services in North Queensland will be the loss of A/C mains power. Our network sites – exchange buildings and mobile bases stations – need power to operate.

Our core network sites have generators powered by diesel fuel and all of our sites have back-up batteries. The back-up batteries have a finite time span and we’ll need A/C mains power to be restored before we can get all customers back online.

Due to the severity of the Cyclone and without knowing the full impact, A/C power restoration could take a number of days.

The heavy rain generated by the Cyclone will also cause flash flooding and this is expected to damage Telstra’s underground cables which feed a number of services. Even though our mobile towers are cyclone rated, there is a risk debris caused by the extreme winds could damage equipment, including the antennae on the mobile towers.

Our customers can stay updated on the cyclone’s impact on our services on the Telstra Crowd Support Page.