SERVICE OUTRAGE: Alf Edwards has been having to stand in the ocean to make calls, after Thursday's storm.
SERVICE OUTRAGE: Alf Edwards has been having to stand in the ocean to make calls, after Thursday's storm. Blake Antrobus

Resident forced to stand in ocean to get phone reception

ANKLE deep in the ocean, that was the only way Alf Edwards could get a phone signal in Burrum Heads following the wild weather.

"It [was] either walking onto the foreshore or standing on random spots of the Bruce Hwy," Mr Edwards said.

"My son couldn't get in touch with his work to find out if he was working; so he had to drive all the way out to Hervey Bay to find out if there was an outage."

Mr Edwards is one of the hundreds of residents in the coastal Fraser Coast town who had no internet, landline or mobile phone reception between Thursday and Sunday.

Local Disaster Management Group chairman Rolf Light said he would be pushing for an investigation into the cause and handling of the four-day telecommunications blackout.

Cr Light said residents in the coastal town were unable to phone triple zero between Thursday and yesterday, and an emergency services operations support unit was set up near the Burrum Heads community centre until Sunday morning, for people to seek help if they could not reach triple zero.

One woman with a medical condition used the service.

"She was prone to turns and was quite distressed," Cr Light said.

"We were able to contact a relative who stayed with her."

With no telecommunications, members of the local disaster management group and community members went door-to-door, warning residents about the communication black-out, and telling them how they could access emergency services if needed.

Cr Light there was still no clear indication what caused the outage.

"I will be seeking clarification of exactly what the problem was, and why there were inconsistencies about when it would be fixed," he said.

"People rely on communications, particularly for triple zero services, Burrum Heads has an older demographic; if people needed fire and ambulance, they couldn't access it and that is a great concern."

When the Chronicle spoke to Telstra area general manager May Boisen on Friday, he said there were "considerable impacts to PSTN, ADSL, Mobile, Foxtel and BigPond services across Queensland and Northern NSW" and thanked Telstra customers for their patience.

Cr Light said he would bring the issue up at a debriefing about last week's rain on Tuesday.

"We need plans in place when this happens again when there's a total lack of communication," he said.



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