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Wild weather lashes the Hunter:Extreme floods damage electricity network

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ABOUT 100,000 Hunter homes and businesses could remain without power for days and a small number are without water, amid extensive damage to the region’s electricity network and with key infrastructure cut off in flooded areas.

Hunter Water spokesman Jeremy Bath said the loss of power to its wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations meant the storm’s impact on its infrastructure on Tuesday was ‘‘worse than the Pasha Bulker storm’’.

Customers were asked to conserve water until Ausgrid could restore electricity supply. Homes in Charlestown, Newcastle West and Coal Point were without water on Tuesday evening.

Ten of Hunter Water’s treatment plants had no power and five of those, at Karuah, Clarence Town, Dungog, Farley and Toronto, couldn’t be accessed to install generators.

That compared to power lost to five plants and three left inaccessible by the June 2007 storms. The water utility is also trying to verify whether a main between Chichester dam and its Dungog water treatment plant has been washed away.

The government said three hospitals – the John Hunter, Belmont and Tomaree – were on intermittent mains power by Tuesday afternoon, with plans in place for them to use generator power.

More than 200,000 homes across the Ausgrid network had their electricity cut off – about half of those in the Hunter. That compared to more than 250,000 affected by the 2007 storms.

Ausgrid is bringing in extra staff to help with the demand, but asked residents to only phone to report hazards and emergencies, on 131388.

Hunter Water has also asked residents to only call in the case of emergency on 1300657000.

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