Streaky Bay communications concern surfaces

LAST month’s two 30 hour plus power black outs have highlighted some issues for the Streaky Bay District Council, most of all the risk of losing communication.

The West Coast region first experienced a 30 hour long blackout on September 8 and 9 before a large storm front affected power in the region again with a blackout on September 28 and 29.

This caused communities to come to a stand still as businesses remained closed due to the loss of power.

Streaky Bay council chief executive Joy Hentschke said the community had shown it could handle the loss of power, at least for a little while.

“The state government is very fortunate many people on the Eyre Peninsula have traditionally had power outages and are prepared, especially hospitals, supermarkets and service stations,” she said.

The council also had a backup generator to keep its sewerage system going, although it had to be activated by staff members every three hours.

However one of the main concerns raised from the power outage included the loss of home and mobile phone signal in the district.

Communities across the district were experiencing loss of signal even after power was restored.

Streaky Bay mayor and Sceale Bay resident Sherron McKenzie said for residents of the small community and others in the district, losing phones could be a scary occurrence, especially when there is an emergency.

“It wasn’t the power that was worst, it was when Streaky Bay and the whole district lost not only home phones but mobiles as well,” she said.

“You can put up with the power gone out for a little while but when you lose communications it’s extremely scary.”

Ms Hentschke said the community showed its concerns during the council’s recent community forums.

“The lack of communications frightened people because if something had gone wrong, there was no way of contacting someone unless you jumped into a vehicle to contact someone,” she said.

The power outage affected Telstra’s network as telecommunications sites depended on backup power.

Telstra SA area manager Mark Bolton said sites all had some level of battery backup and in the case of major exchanges, a diesel generator to provide power and maintain services but these backup systems were designed for power outages of a few hours, not extended outages.

“Once the extent and location of the issue was known, Telstra organised for an additional 60 large trailer mounted generators to be brought in from interstate to help restore power to affected sites,” he said.

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