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Thousands of Manitobans in holding pattern as hydro, clean-up efforts continue

The Red River Floodway on Oct. 8, 2019.
The Red River Floodway on Oct. 8, 2019. Submitted

Nearing a week after a storm that forced the province to call a state of emergency, thousands of Manitobans remain without power as clean up efforts continue across the province.

As of Wednesday morning some 9,400 Manitoba Hydro customers were still without power, and the crown corporation said some will be left in the dark for another seven to 10 days.

The Manitoba Hydro outages map as of Wednesday morning.
The Manitoba Hydro outages map as of Wednesday morning. Manitoba Hydro/Google Maps

In the hard-hit RM of Portage la Prairie, where some 2,000 households remained without electricity Wednesday, Reeve Kam Blight says residents have been helping each other through.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg couple puts together new wedding in a day after storm ruins original plans

“How people rally together and rise up to help each other is absolutely incredible,” he told 680 CJOB Wednesday.

“It’s nothing short of incredible.”

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After touring the municipality Tuesday — and seeing the number of knocked over power lines still left scattered throughout the area — Blight said he had his doubts about Hydro’s timeline.

But after meeting with provincial and Hydro officials later in the day, Blight said he’s confident crews will get power back within their estimate.

He said RM staff are working with the Red Cross to provide meals for those left without power and trying to get more generators to those remaining in their homes.

“We’re going to do everything we can to help them through this.”

The Interlake

Meanwhile Hydro wasn’t able to give an estimate on how long it will take to get power restored to the roughly 1,000 customers who have been without power for days in the Interlake.

Hydro said it had a crew of 278 in the area Wednesday working to fix just shy of 1,400 broken hydro poles and 38 towers that were damaged in the storm.

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At its peak Hydro said more than 150,000 customers without power after a Colorado Low hit Thursday and Friday, bringing more than 70 cms of snow to some parts of the province.

Manitoba Hydro has had help from Ontario’s Hydro One, Minnesota Power and SaskPower in its power restoration efforts.

READ MORE: Despite heavy snowfall, Red River is not expected to flood in Manitoba

While heavy rains in September had forced the province to start operating the Red River Floodway just hours before the storm started, the province says the Red River and its tributaries are not expected to overflow their banks this fall.

The Manitoba government said Tuesday the Red is expected to peak between Oct. 20 and 23 as snow melts and the runoff enters streams and rivers.

On Wednesday a provincial spokesperson said river levels are expected to decline with no significant precipitation in the forecast for the coming days.

In Winnipeg the Red River was at 15.57 feet above James Avenue as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Manitobans come together in wake of massive storm
Manitobans come together in wake of massive storm

Clean up from the storm continued in the city Wednesday, where officials say as many as 30,000 trees fell during the storm.

Glenn Rand, owner of Main Branch Tree Service tells Global News his company had 130 calls for service in the first few days of the week.

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“We are just going non-stop, the phone calls are non-stop — you finish the day and you don’t have that feeling of completion,” said Glenn Rand, owner of Main Branch Tree Service.

“There’s a thousand jobs still to go once you’re finished.”

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Information on what Winnipeggers can do about their damaged trees can be found here.

READ MORE: First Nations displaced by storm share concerns, frustrations with Scheer campaign

The city is still home to thousands of evacuees from northern Manitoba without power.

In all 13 First Nations are registered for assistance with the Canadian Red Cross, which is orchestrating the continuing evacuation efforts.

Red Cross spokesperson Jason Small says there are 5,700 evacuees still unable to return to their homes as a result of power outages, with the majority of them staying in Winnipeg.

Most are staying in hotels or with friends and family in the city, while somewhere around 120 are staying at a temporary shelter set up at the RBC Convention Centre.

Small couldn’t say how long it will take before the evacuees can return home.

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