More than 125,000 Queensland homes have had their power restored after devastating storms downed electricity lines and left residents disconnected.
The state’s southeast has been riddled with wild weather in recent weeks, with a tornado tearing through the Gold Coast and flash flooding hitting the Logan and Scenic Rim regions.
About 130,000 properties were without power at the peak of the storms but 97 per cent have been reconnected, Queensland’s acting energy minister Grace Grace said.
Some 3000 homes should have their electricity restored by Sunday.
“On Tambourine Mountain … they were basically rebuilding the network – new poles, new wires, everything had to be rebuilt,” Ms Grace told reporters on Saturday.
“There’s still a significant number of people that are without power but that is reducing.”
The damage bill after the storms in the southeast and ex-tropical cyclone Jasper in far north Queensland currently stands at a staggering $2 billion.
But the final repair bill won’t be known until the full extent of the damage is uncovered.
That’s easier said than done for locations such as the Palmerston Highway in the far north, which has been hit hard by floodwaters.
“The Department of Transport and Main Roads still doesn’t know where the water’s coming from and when it will stop,” Treasurer Cameron Dick said on Friday.
“So it’s impossible for them at this stage to put a dollar figure on the restoration.”
Mr Dick said the early estimate of $2 billion was likely to increase significantly over the next weeks and months.
At least $1 billion will be needed to restore essential infrastructure with about $500 million required for road reconstruction alone.
Mr Dick said the major damage bill did not concern him.
“We will pay what needs to be paid to ensure everyone recovers,” he said.
That could take some time judging by heavily impacted areas such as the Gold Coast which is still reeling from a Christmas Day tornado.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said 700 streets across 20 suburbs had to be cleared across his region, with an estimated 750,000 truckloads of debris.
“The green waste left across the city as a result of storms would fill up to 80 football fields two metres high,” he said.
Residents of the entire Gold Coast council area – almost 650,000 people – were on Friday made eligible to apply for personal hardship grants.
At least 500 homes have been damaged in the southeast with Logan and Scenic Rim regions also hit hard by storms and flash flooding.
About 800 homes have been impacted in the far north.
More than 60,000 people across the state have already received $11 million in government financial assistance.
There have been 6000 insurance claims in the far north and 42,000 in the southeast.
More than 50 Australian Defence Force personnel have been assisting almost 1000 energy crews to repair the storm damage.