Tichborne neighbours turn to Michael McCormack for help with restoring their landlines after bad storm

If Tichborne residents John and Lenette Sullivan were to take anything away from the severe storm that struck the Parkes Shire late on Tuesday, January 22, it would be how important it is for neighbours to look out for one another and that it really is worth turning to your local MP in times of trouble.

Besides the mass destruction left behind, the Warregal Road couple - along with thousands of others - lost power to their home about 11.15pm that night. Then about 7.20am the next morning they - and most of Tichborne they believe - lost their landline phones.

Tichborne is a mobile phone black spot and it wasn't long before some residents were out in their paddocks or on the side of the road searching for a signal to notify Telstra.

After waiting and spending long periods on the phone to Telstra to have the outage fixed, John - who lives next door to the Tichborne Telstra Exchange - decided to drive into town to speak to someone at the Telstra shop, but had no success.

"We were told our landlines would be back on by that Wednesday afternoon but Thursday morning came and still no phone," he said.

"We went for another walk in the paddock and this time we were told our phones won't be back on until January 30, a week later.

"If the exchange was out, then all of Tichborne was out."

Neighbour and farmer Patrick Engley had the same trouble.

But John said their greatest concern was that of the safety of the elderly couple living across the Newell Highway, John and Doreen Parker.

Patrick said he had checked on 88-year-old Doreen - who's an asthmatic, is on blood thinner medication and who's had a number of falls in the home recently - and her husband.

"I wasn't worried about myself, I was concerned for Doreen and John and what would happen in an emergency with no landline," Patrick said.

"And when they said it was going to be another week, I thought this is wrong. Here John and Doreen are stuck without a phone."

"We depend on our internet and landline, we have very little reception out here," John added.

When they were still without their landlines on Friday morning (January 25), John made another trip to the Telstra shop in Clarinda Street.

When the retail staff could only offer him a phone to call the customer service line, he decided to go see Parkes' federal member Michael McCormack's office.

"I spoke to the receptionist and explained what was going on, highlighting the Parker's situation," John said.

"We've lived here for 30 years and we've had our phones out before, but in the past Parkes had a depot and technicians in town and within a day it would be back on."

John said within an hour of turning to Mr McCormack, he saw a technician at the exchange and within three hours their phones were back.

"It's brilliant [and] a few days later McCormack's office rang to see if everything was going well," Lenette said.

"We're really relieved, especially for the Parkers - we know what it's like if someone had a bad asthma attack."

John said he highly recommends people to go to their local MPs when they need help with an issue.

"That was the first time I did that, it was absolutely terrific," he said.

"I couldn't believe it.

"It was a joint effort by everybody."

"We could get by with mobile phones - but Doreen and John couldn't go walking around in the paddocks to get reception," Patrick added.

"For them to get their landline back, that's all I wanted."

Doreen said the landline "means everything to us".

"Our hands were tied, where do we go? Who do we see?" husband John said.

"We've had three ambulances here in the last 12 months and we've got to do that by phone.

"Naturally if there's a fire or you need the police, you worry more as you get older."

John and Doreen were without power for 11 hours and realised their phone was out as well the morning after the storm when they hadn't heard it ring for hours.

Doreen said their granddaughter called Telstra on their behalf but she was told Telstra couldn't help her because Doreen or John had to make the call.

"When the phone rang, we looked at each other...it was great… We were relieved and grateful," she said.

Like many others in Parkes after the storm passed, Tichborne residents had large trees snapped at the base, tree limbs strewn across roads, paddocks and driveways, damaged fences, sheds lost roofs, a two tonne field bin and auger turned over and trees ripped guttering off homes.

"The response from council was brilliant, they were here within a few hours of contacting them," John Sullivan said.

"The machinery and council staff ended up coming in from Trundle, and they were great."

Telstra: Damage worse than expected

January's late night severe wind storm left a trail of destruction throughout Parkes.

Many homes and properties were damaged and thousands were without power, some for more than 24 hours.

There were also residents, including those in Tichborne, without the use of their landline phones.

Regional General Manager for Telstra in NSW, Mike Marom, said the severe storms that hit the Central West in late January impacted landline services for two days to residents living in the Tichborne area.

And the damage was worse than expected.

"The two-day outage commenced on January 23 and was initially caused by a loss of mains power to the Tichborne Telstra Exchange," Mr Marom said.

"Once power was restored, it was discovered that some electrical equipment within the exchange had also been damaged as a result of the storm and replacement parts were required."

Mr Marom said Telstra technicians completed repairs to the exchange on January 25 and "full service was restored to all affected residents".

"Landline services have been operating as normal since that time," he said.

"Telstra aims to restore all service outages as quickly as possible and apologises to any impacted residents.

"For residents experiencing issues with their service, customers can call 13 22 03 at any time or can also report a fault using the internet by visiting www.telstra.com."