December 31, 2023

Thousands to welcome 2024 without power as veterans join storm clean-up

By Matt Dennien
December 31, 2023 — 2.47pm
, register or subscribe to save articles for later.

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Thousands of south-east Queensland residents will see in the new year with no power as authorities continue to scramble to rebuild infrastructure following Christmas storms, and volunteers descend on the worst-affected areas to help clean up.

The federal government has deployed up to 70 military veterans and emergency responder volunteers from Disaster Relief Australia to work with state agencies removing vast amounts of debris left by the severe weather.

Almost 140 SES volunteers from NSW and Victoria will also add to the number of boots on the ground, with 2600 fire and rescue damage assessments so far finding four homes destroyed and 750 with minor to severe damage.

On Sunday morning, Deputy Premier Cameron Dick said Queensland’s SES had received more than 3000 calls for help in the hard-hit Gold Coast and Scenic Rim areas since 6pm on December 25.

At the peak, more than 130,000 properties were without power and 1000 powerlines were down following strong winds, which destroyed concrete poles and buckled a crane. The storms also claimed seven lives.

While power has now been restored to 85 per cent of those homes, Dick said 700 Energex workers were striving to get the lights back on at about 18,000 others.

“We know Queenslanders are tough and resilient, [but] it is a hard time for many families,” he told journalists in Jimboomba – one of the worst-affected areas, about 50 kilometres south of Brisbane.

“We’ve seen the power system absolutely destroyed. So this isn’t about restoration, [in some areas] this is about rebuilding power, and we’ve not seen this sort of damage in my lifetime, really, in this part of Queensland.”


Earlier in the week, state-owned energy supplier Energex gave residents a detailed breakdown of the suburb-by-suburb, street-by-street efforts to fix the electricity network after the severe storms.


The outage finder resource says power in some form was expected to be restored in most areas, except Jimboomba and Mount Tamborine, by Sunday night.

But Energy Queensland chief executive Peter Scott, who appeared with Dick on Sunday, said this was likely to occur “in the next day or so”, with harder-hit areas not expected to be reconnected until “well into January”.

Energex’s website says some parts of Jimboomba and Mount Tamborine are not estimated to have power until January 5, but may be assisted by generators before then, where it is safe.

Storms that swept parts of the state’s south on Saturday did not affect the worst-hit regions, but Dick said there was still a risk of more to come, with possible thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow through to Wednesday.

He welcomed the federal government’s review disaster messaging after some criticism around its effectiveness in the recent storms.

He also said his state Labor government would continue discussions about the messaging, and if broader defence force help may be needed.

Get the inside word on the news, sport, food, people and places Brisbane is talking about. Sign up for our City Talk newsletter here.

Matt Dennien is a state political reporter with Brisbane Times, where he has also covered city council and general news. He previously worked as a reporter for newspapers in Tasmania and Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ.Connect via Twitter, Facebook or email.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.