Remarkably, it’s “business as usual” for Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie, despite a lightning strike rending its radio base at Swansea Heads inoperative.
During Friday afternoon’s fierce thunderstorm in Newcastle, which resulted in flash flooding late on 11 February, a bolt hit an aerial on the organisation’s building – and proceeded to unleash a path of destruction.
The lighting travelled down the pole, through the wire and underground, before frying everything in the premises.
“We lost all of our radio communications, phones, internet and power, as well as our back-up systems,” Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie Unit Commander Malcolm Druce said.
“Which, let me tell you, isn’t a great deal of fun, especially in our line of business.
“Luckily, no-one was hurt, that’s the one positive.
“But, the damage is really extensive here.
“There are things in the building that are just black.
“However, we are fully operational [today].
“I have to say Marine Rescue NSW reacted quickly.
“And, thanks to their actions, we’ve now got a mobile communications van with everything we need.
“At the moment, our volunteers are currently working out of that at Swansea Heads.”
Commander Druce admitted everyone was “going above and beyond” to ensure the base was “up and running” again as soon as possible.
“We had electricians here from seven this morning, trying to figure out how to get the place rewired,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“People are working on radio equipment, as we replace modems and re-establish internet connection.
“It could take us between a week and possibly up to six to get it all re-done at the base.
“But, to be operational after such an ordeal, is a pretty terrific result.
“We’ve scrambled, the portable radio program is in place, so it’s business as usual.
“Although I do have to admit, it was really touch and go last night, just to see if we could get the place operating on a temporary basis.
“A lot of people have done some amazing work overnight to put us [Marine Rescue] in this position, which could end up saving a life or two.”
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