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Thousands of Manitobans without power cope with difficult conditions after storm

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It’s been a record-shattering storm for power outages across the province according to Manitoba Hydro, and some Manitobans took the chance to flee their communities – when they could.

As of midnight on Friday 150,000 customers in the province were in the dark.

Jessica Swan was without power at her Dugald, Man. home for 24 hours so she decided to take the trip to Winnipeg with her four-year-old.

“There was no way to know when it was going to be back on. And I just decided I didn’t want to wait around in a cold house with no water, food or heat or any way of preparing anything. So we decided to get to a hotel room,” she said.

Swan is also nine months pregnant and didn’t want to take any chances.

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“That played into my decision too, especially with the way the weather was last night and the roads were bad. I thought if anything did happen it would have been safer to be in the city anyways.”

Jessica Swan and her son travelled to Winnipeg to stay in a hotel instead of coping without power at home.
Jessica Swan and her son travelled to Winnipeg to stay in a hotel instead of coping without power at home. Amber McGuckin/Global News

Swan also had a power line down at her home but says crews came fairly quickly to fix it.

“The hydro workers, linesman, even emergency services — they’ve been working 24/7 and I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the hard work they’ve been putting in,” she said.

Manitoba Hydro hasn’t been able to give estimates for power restoration times.

“It’s extremely serious. This storm is unprecedented. This is the worst storm we’ve experienced at Hydro, ever,” said Bruce Owen, media relations officer for Manitoba Hydro.

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“We’ve had more people without power in the last two days than ever before.”

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As of 11 a.m. Saturday, there were still 53,000 customers in Manitoba without power — 8,000 in Portage la Prairie and just over 7,000 in Winnipeg.

“The challenge is getting into some of these areas because of all the rain we’ve had prior to this storm. Ditches are still full of water, fields are still wet. If we move equipment to this it will get stuck or under water and we can’t allow that. So we need even more specialized vehicles,” said Owen.

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In an effort to streamline calls and try and minimize wait times, hydro is asking customers to only call the contact centre in the event of a downed line or other emergency.

You can get the latest information on power outages and report them online.