26 August 2021

No shock as Murrumbateman locals hail power crew as heroes

| Sally Hopman
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Essential Energy workers

Dave Brown, right, with his team of Essential Energy workers, from left, Adam Clifford, Josh Hall and Thomas Mason. Fellow team member Zac Gerstienberg not pictured. Photo: Supplied.

Murrumbateman townsfolk have labelled an emergency crew from Essential Energy heroes.

The five-man team, led by electricity power linesman, Dave Brown of Yass, worked in what locals described as horror conditions on Tuesday night (24 August) when a storm and wild winds cut power to the village.

At about 7:30 pm, after being called out to the village by residents, the crew discovered a tree had come down in the high winds, bringing a power pole with it.

“I was on call so we were the first to get out there,” Dave Brown said.

“The owner of the property where the tree had come down said there was a fire – that’s when we saw that an old gum tree had come down and that had broken the cross arms on the power pole that hold the lines in – it actually had snapped the lines in half.

“The first thing you do in situations like this is to test the conductor on the ground to make sure it’s not live.”

Thankfully it wasn’t, but the crew still had to work in the most trying of conditions, heavy rain falling like sheets in all directions carried by the ferocious wind.

Dave says although challenging, crews are trained to work in the harshest of conditions. On Tuesday, they had already attended a number of power outage jobs in Gunning and Yass before the call to Murrumbateman.

“I think all up we had seven jobs on the go that night,” he said. “But Murrumbateman would have been the most challenging of them because of the wind – it was not real good.

“But we’re trained to deal with situations like this. When you’re on call, that means that people have the confidence that you can cope with anything that you’re going to be called out to.”

READ ALSO Work begins on new Murrumbateman Primary School

How do you learn to deal with such situations?

“I did a four-year apprenticeship,” Dave said. “And I’ve had about 14 years’ experience now doing this sort of work. The more you’re exposed to emergency situations, the more you learn from them.

“But I have to say that at Murrumbateman that night, it was pretty up there with challenging situations.

“You could say it was not the most pleasant of conditions to work under.”

But they did, and by 10:00 pm, power had been restored to 913 of the 976 Murrumbateman customers affected by the blackout.

A spokeswoman for Essential Energy said crews continued to work through until 11:25 pm that night to restore power to a further 55 customers. A morning crew was on-site first thing on Wednesday to restore power to the remaining eight customers and continue the clean-up.

On the online Murrumbateman Notice Board, which is usually devoted more to “lost and founds”, “does anyone have a …” or “good plumber wanted”, many locals opted to use it express their thanks to the work done by Dave and his team – some with a sense of humour.

“Many many thanks to the Essential Energy team who worked so hard to get the power back. The conditions were terrible, dark windy and wet … and that was just in my house.”

“Our very sincere thanks to the wonderful people who have been working in terrible conditions to restore our power. Like if you agree.” Ninety-one did.

“Thanks people for working in the rain and wind for getting my electricity working again tonight – much appreciated.”

Or the simple – “Power!”

For Dave Brown and his team, it might just have been all in a night’s work, but to a small community, it was a lot more than that.

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