PHONE OUT: Ellen and Noel Nielson lost phone connection when a lightning bolt hit the pole outside their home.
PHONE OUT: Ellen and Noel Nielson lost phone connection when a lightning bolt hit the pole outside their home. Mike Knott BUN110118PHONE2

No phone, no help: Couple in their 80s cut off by storm

A HOME phone is a vital communication tool for Noel and Ellen Nielson but it's something they haven't been able to rely on lately.

The elderly couple said after lightning struck near their Svensson Heights home during a severe storm last week, they had lost all phone connectivity with little help from their provider TPG.

"It has been a bit of a struggle," Mrs Nielson said.

"I am 83 and my husband is 87 years old, we have had to use a mobile phone which we have found very difficult.

"We just don't know how to use one and have gone through a lot of credit accidentally."

Mrs Nielson said their landline was important due to the health issues she and her husband both dealt with.

She said her family had tried contacting their provider multiple times with little to no help from TPG regarding the issue.

"Having a phone is important to us," she said.

"It has hindered us in a way in that we have medical problems and anything can happen to us."

Mrs Nielson said the storm had also caused her home to lose power, frying the power board and ultimately damaging their air conditioner, but those problems had now been rectified.

However, she said her landline was still a problem.

"My son is here today trying to fix it for us," she said.

"We were told by TPG that they would send us a new modem.

"It has been a bit of a hassle."

The NewsMail tried to contact TPG but no media phone number or email was listed on their website. A customer service representative said, "we don't have a direct number for media because they only contact people through social media."

Mr and Mrs Nielson are not the only residents who have been affected by phone, internet and power outages after the storm.

Their neighbour, Ken Boyd, contacted The NewsMail yesterday to voice his concerns about the days it took to get his services up and running again.

"I was on the phone to Ergon Energy multiple times as well as Optus," he said.

"My issue is no one is accepting the responsibility."



Yesterday, The NewsMail reported on a similar story from resident Harry Himsley who had also been without a phone in Svensson Heights for about a week.

The NewsMail contacted the two major suppliers, Optus and Telstra, along with the NBN. The latter two stated a fault with a Telstra line was to blame while Telstra stated there wasn't any information about widespread outages in the area.