Massive power surge crippled Coastguard tower

A FREAK lightning strike caused more than $20,000 damage to sophisticated electrical equipment in the Kingscliff Coastguard tower. It was the worst power surge to have hit the tower, near the mouth of Cudgen Creek, since it was built more than 20 years ago, according to Kingscliff Coastguard Flotilla Commander John Purnell. He said Country Energy had estimated the force of the lightning strike which hit a large power pole in nearby Faulks Park during bad weather about three weeks ago to be more than 90,000 volts. The volunteer coastguard was out of action and then forced to operate with borrowed equipment for about three days. Insurance claims for damage totalling more than $23,000 had recently been approved, Mr Purnell said yesterday. "We've had some power surges in the past, but nothing like this," he said. "It was just incredible how powerful it was. "Most of our equipment was totally destroyed, it was amazing. "Our two aerials were blown off the roof, our power board was completely blown apart, clean off the wall, our ceiling lights were blown out of their sockets, our radar was smashed and all our radios blew up. "We've got surge protectors, but they were blown too. "But we are fortunate it was only property that was damaged." Mr Purnell said volunteer operator Ted Ramsey had been on duty at the time of the strike and was lucky not to have been "earthed". He said Mr Ramsey had only just got up out of his seat and moved away from the electrical equipment before the lightning struck. "He was lucky, that's for sure," Mr Purnell said He said a recent donation from a Men of League charity lunch would go towards the repair bill. "The Men of League put on a great day at the Kingscliff bowls club and we are lucky to be able to benefit from that at a time when we really need as much support as we can get," Mr Purnell said. He said that although insurance would help cover the costs of the lightning strike, there were still expenses needing to be paid.



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