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Winds may bring down more branches in areas most affected by ice storm: Environment Canada

Above: Five days after the ice storm, people in Toronto have been forced to throw out food while they wait for the power to come back on. Christina Stevens has the latest details.

TORONTO – Cleanup may be underway across Toronto, but Environment Canada warns increased winds are forecast for parts of the city battered by last week’s ice storm.

The government agency is warning about the possibility of power outages, more broken trees and downed power lines.

“Winds are forecast to pick up early this afternoon over regions most affected by the ice storm. They are expected to be west or southwesterly at 20 to 30 km/h at times. This may lead to sporadic power outages as ice and snow-laden tree limbs could snap onto power lines,” the alert for the city of Toronto said.

This isn’t good news for the more than 57,000 homes in the city that are still in the dark and cold without any power.

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At an update on Boxing Day, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said that power restoration efforts are now about 82 per cent complete.

But he warned that the unruly weather has hampered cleanup efforts – as crews work to repair downed power lines, falling trees are causing damage in other areas.

“We have two 12-hour shifts a day and we will not stop until the power’s back on,” he said.

Forty-three crews are working to clear trees from wires and another 20 are cleaning the roads of debris.

WATCH: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne updates the public on the state of the province’s recovery efforts (Dec 26) 

READ MORE: Thousands of Toronto residents still in the dark on Boxing Day

So far, the city has received help from hydro crews from Hamilton, Brockville and as far away as Manitoba.

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The hydro company said it received 38,000 calls from customers on Christmas Day. On an average day, it gets 3,000 at most.

On one day following the storm, Toronto Hydro said it received 128,000 calls – a ratio of about one call for every two customers without power.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said that warming centres are “very busy” so these community centres and police stations open to the public will stay open.

READ MORE: Residents in three provinces stay in dark as efforts continue to restore power

Toronto Hydro is warning that power lines sagging under broken tree branches are a hazard.  Any hanging power line could be charged, so it’s warning the public to stay back.

Ford told reporters declaring a State of Emergency would not have sped up restoration efforts.

WATCH: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and other city officials update ice storm recovery efforts on Boxing Day (Dec 26)

READ MORE: Officials warn of CO poisoning risk as thousands still without power after ice storm

“A state of emergency would not have helped anything right now. Nobody else has declared a state of emergency,” Ford said. “It would have just caused undue panic. We want people to stay calm.”

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Take a look at these tips for winter storm safety:

What you need to know about your car and home insurance after a winter storm

Ice storm: Who is responsible for clearing the sidewalk?

How to keep your smartphone charged and other tips during a power outage

What to do with food in your fridge and freezer

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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