Events in Queensland and northern New South Wales in the past week have reminded us just how powerful Mother Nature can be. Tropical Cyclone Debbie began in the Whitsunday Islands last Tuesday, and its after effects are still being felt down the east coast.

The Cyclone has left a path of destruction across many towns and communities and damaged a lot of Telstra infrastructure along the way. Up until now, our focus has been on restoring power to the hundreds of network sites that were in the Cyclone’s path. Telstra’s core network is connected to exchange buildings and mobile base stations, and these sites rely on power to operate, which in many cases was lost after Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent storms came through. Back-up batteries and emergency generators supported most of these sites while we waited for power to be restored. This has progressively happened over the past few days, and most network-related services that were affected by the Cyclone and storms have been recovered, bringing a large proportion of our affected customers back online.

Our restoration efforts will now shift focus to fixing the Telstra infrastructure that connects our exchange buildings to our customers’ premises. Things like our underground cables, roadside cabinets, pillars and pits that are dotted all around towns and neighbourhoods along the east coast. The extreme weather and flooding has severely damaged some of this infrastructure. In the areas where the water has receded we already know a lot of cables have been severed and washed away, joints have been corroded, and many of our pits and roadside cabinets have been water logged.

In other areas that are still underwater, our infrastructure is still completely submerged and we don’t yet know the full extent of the damage. There will also be individual customer faults from weather damage to homes and businesses that we are not yet aware of that will be reported by customers over the coming days.

All of this has and will continue to impact our customers’ services. We’re already seeing a significant increase in the number of faults reported by customers as the power comes back on. We expect the fault volumes will continue to rise across north Queensland, Brisbane, south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

In addition to the field technicians we already have in the affected areas, we have mobilised more technicians from parts of Queensland that weren’t affected by the Cyclone. We’re also bringing in more resources from other parts of the country to help with our recovery efforts.

Our teams will be working around the clock to repair the infrastructure and fix the faults, but it is going to take time. Given the number of faults caused by the weather, our teams are likely to remain in Queensland and northern New South Wales for the next few months.

We know this is an extremely difficult time for our customers and the communities that have been affected. We are doing everything we can to get you connected as quickly as possible, and we will continue to keep you updated on our progress.

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