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Top End monsoon sees Telstra outages, emergency services 'angry' about flood rescues

Sunday January 28, 2018 - 18:57 EDT
ABC image
The road at Backyard Creek, south of Darwin, flooded by half a metre of water. - ABC

With monsoonal conditions sweeping across the Top End, residents in multiple communities have been affected by Telstra outages, while emergency services grapple with more flood rescues.



About 380 residents in Daly River are still on standby for possible evacuation as the Lower Daly River rises and is expected to peak on Tuesday afternoon.

Telstra said technicians had been flown out to the affected communities in the Daly Region and Tiwi Islands to fix the damage.

"We are working to restore impacted services as quickly as possible however adverse weather conditions are preventing us from reaching some areas, but we will attend as soon as it's safe to do so," Telstra area general manager for the NT, Nic Danks, said.

Telstra said services on the Tiwi Islands were restored by Sunday afternoon.



Mr Danks said the phone infrastructure had been damaged by the severe weather being experienced across the Top End.

"Unfortunately our infrastructure has sustained some damage due to lightning strikes and very heavy rainfall," he said

The outages have affected mobiles, landlines, internet services and ATMs, with reports they had been down for at least 48 hours in Daly River, Wadeye, Peppimenarti and Palumpa, along with the Tiwi Islands communities of Milikapiti, Pularumpi and Wurrumiyanga.

Northern Territory Police said it was not clear when the services in Daly River, Wadeye, Peppimenarti and Palumpa would be up and running again.

"We don't have the specifics of what happened to them and we don't have a timeline as to when they will be restored," Acting Assistant Commissioner Matthew Hollamby said.

Heavy rainfall drenches the Top End



Meanwhile, Darwin and Darwin's rural area have experienced heavy rainfall and gusty winds, brought by the active monsoon trough lying near the base of the Top End.

The vigorous monsoonal conditions were expected to continue into early next week, bringing flooding to western Top End, the BOM said.

Humpty Doo in Darwin's rural area recorded 423 millimetres of rain in the last three days, which is close to the area's entire January average.

Darwin Airport received 286mm in the last three days and the island Dum-In-Mirrie off Dundee had 234mm over the same period.



Since being warned of a possible evacuation on Friday, Daly River residents have been advised to stay vigilant despite flood predictions from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) being revised down.

NT Police said households in Daly River would be given $250 credit to use at the local shop, after people were told to dispose food ahead of Friday's planned evacuation.

The rising Daly River is forecast to reach the moderate flood level of 13.1 metres on Monday, and 13.4m on Tuesday.

"At this stage it doesn't appear that they will go into major flooding and meet our triggers to evacuate the community — and we're hoping that's the case," Mr Hollamby said.

A flood watch has been issued for the North West and Bonaparte Coastal Rivers, while a minor flood warning has been put in place for the McArthur River.



The Northern Territory Emergency Service (NTES) said as more heavy rainfall is expected to continue over the next 24 to 48 hours, residents in flood-prone areas are asked to check the Secure NT website for advice on how to prepare.

"We'd be mindful [to advise] households in areas that may experience flooding to prepare — be ready for flooding to occur around your area and make appropriate plans according to your situation," NTES regional manager Mark Cunnington said.

Emergency services 'angry' over flood rescues

The occupants of three vehicles had to be rescued overnight, following

The incidents have prompted a warning to motorists from NTES.



"We would ask people not to be idiots and stay out of floodways — there have been seven incidents reported over this weekend. We're lucky we haven't lost any lives," Mr Cunnington said.

"Aside from putting yourselves, your family and everything else at risk, you also put at risk emergency responders who have to come out and get you.

"They're volunteers. It makes me angry that I have to put my people at risk to come out and get somebody who made a poor decision to try and cross a riverway."

CareFlight landings aborted, crew grounded

The wet and stormy weather forced CareFlight pilots to abort landings in Darwin, and grounded a crew on Croker Island.



CareFlight said an experienced pilot, flight nurse and flight doctor flew to Minjilang on Croker Island yesterday to help a patient, but upon landing the weather deteriorated, making it unsafe to return to Darwin.

"Due to the increased fatigue of such a long shift, the pilot in command elected to request a fresh crew to fly the leg back to Darwin," CareFlight posted on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a CareFlight helicopter with two patients on board had to abort two attempts to land in Darwin due to the weather, and a communication blackout on Bathurst Island left the crew without access to weather radar images.

After receiving information from another pilot via a satellite phone, the helicopter was able to avoid the storm and eventually landed safely at Royal Darwin Hospital.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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