Storm clean-up continues as some northern SA communities lose access to phone services

Close to 35,000 homes and businesses remain without power and some communities in South Australia’s north have lost access to emergency phone calls as the clean-up from the weekend’s storms continues.

The state was hit with wild winds, rain, thunder and lightning over the weekend, causing widespread blackouts and storm damage.

Dozens of schools will be closed today due to blackouts or storm damage with the education department advising parents to follow advice sent directly from their schools and preschools.

Paul Roberts from SA Power Networks said most homes should have their power restored by Tuesday, but there could be some “stragglers” without power until Wednesday.

Mr Roberts said it was the largest outage event in SA since the statewide blackout in 2016.

“[It’s] the biggest impact since we had the statewide blackout in 2016 in September, but it’s going to take much longer for us to recover from this one [than] the statewide blackout,” Mr Roberts said.

“Most people were back on in the evening and overnight that day, but this is where we’re really having to rebuild many parts of the network which have been damaged by big trees that have fallen on lines, all sorts of damage, that requires rebuilding, not just reconnecting supply.

“The statewide blackout was essentially reorganizing the supply in the network and rebuilding us back up from zero supply to be able to generate the state, whereas this is actually about rebuilding the network.

Mr Roberts said as well as damage to powerlines and infrastructure, a tower had been lost on the interconnector at Tailem Bend, meaning there was no supply coming from interstate.

The interconnector is operated by ElectraNet.

There were 423,000 lightning strikes recorded on Saturday, along with winds of 106 kilometers per hour.

SA Power Networks said power should be restored to most properties today.(ABC News: Shari Hams)

SA Power Networks said power was cut to 160,000 customers, with 310 outages reported across the state.

SA Police said some communities in the north of the state had lost access to Telstra services, meaning residents in those towns could not contact triple-0.

The communities affected are Booborowie, Burra, Copley, Gidgealpa, Hallet, Leigh Creek, Marree, Nepabunna and Yeelanna.

Anyone requiring medical assistance that is not able to call triple-0 is asked to attend their nearest hospital.

Anyone needing other emergency services has been told to attend their nearest police or fire station.

Senior Constable Kate Dawson said many roads across metropolitan areas were still littered with fallen trees and a number of intersections were without traffic lights due to the blackouts.

“It’s wild out there and it has been for the last couple of days, which has resulted in a lot of damage to our roads and the power network across the state, so if you do need to drive today, we just ask that you take extreme care on our roads,” she said.

“As well as homes and businesses, there are still many intersections with power out as well as trees, powerlines and light poles down across the road causing hazards.”

SES responds to thousands of calls

State Emergency Services chief of staff Darren Halleday said crews had received 2,000 calls for help over the past 24 hours.

Tree branches lay along a footpath
Fallen trees at Blackwood in Adelaide’s south-east.(ABC News: Lyndall Foale)

They included reports of damaged roofs, downed powerlines and blocked roads across the state.

Mr Halleday said about 300 jobs remained and he expected the workload would ease over the coming days.

“Much of the damage included roofs being removed, trees on buildings, trees on cars, trees on powerlines and trees on roads,” he said.

“We really do thank the public for their patience, as there has been delays getting through the 132,500 numbers.”

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Jenny Horvat said things had settled down, but conditions were still quite wet and windy.

She said there had been nearly 50 millimeters of rain at the Mount Lofty Ranges since 9am yesterday, but the weather system that had caused the storm had moved east towards Tasmania.

“We should start to see some easing of conditions during the later part of today,” she said.

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