Cell link welcome

A lightning strike  disabled Carol Geissler's phone last month  and the  Papatowai resident, ...
A lightning strike disabled Carol Geissler's phone last month and the Papatowai resident, pictured with puppy Ginny, said she decided to get a cellphone now the township has a cell site. Her landline was out for five days after the storm. Photo by Hamish MacLean.
Scorch marks remain on the walls of Carol Geissler's Papatowai home after a lightning strike ''blew'' her landline while she was talking on the phone during an intense thunderstorm last month.

The noisy, terrifying storm and the next five days when emails were her only means of contacting people outside the north Catlins community, caused her to reconsider owning a cellphone, she said.

''I'm so staunch, I'll trudge through the blizzard next time to get help. I'm a pioneering woman. No, I probably will [get a cellphone].''

Until last month, living without cellphone coverage had been part of the lifestyle at Papatowai. But Vodafone switched on a new cell site in the North Catlins area about a week before the storm.

Others in the area have also decided to get Vodafone cellphones after the storm.

The Papatowai tower is the third tower built under the 2011 Vodafone Community Cell Site scheme, which solicited bids from remote communities to vie for cellphone coverage.

Of the three chosen locations, two sites were selected in the Catlins, at Haldane and Papatowai.

The third was in the Bay of Plenty.

On completion, there will be four Catlins cellphone towers, at Papatowai, Haldane, Owaka and Tokanui.

The Owaka and Tokanui towers were built as part of the Government's rural broadband initiative.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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