Multiple areas of Manitoba without power as province declares state of emergency

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, the province of Manitoba was blanketed with snow in amounts unimaginable for the third week of fall. As of Sunday morning, 50 to 60 millimetres of precipitation had fallen, mainly in the form of snow in the southwestern and southeastern parts of the province, while the central and Interlake regions received a mix of snow and rain.

“It is clear the tremendous effort to restore power and other activities will be ongoing for some time,” says Premier Brian Pallister, who declared a state of emergency over the weekend to deal with the aftermath.

By taking this step, Manitoba Hydro is able to invoke mutual aid clauses with neighbouring utilities for such assistance as may be required to restore services. According to a news release, it applies in all areas of the province impacted by failed and failing electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Since Sunday, Manitoba Hydro has reached out to Hydro One, Minnesota Power, and SaskPower to request specific resources such as replacement transmission towers, distribution poles, and specialized electrical equipment; as well as crews to help with restoration.

According to Manitoba Hydro, the damage from the weekend snow storm has left roughly 34,000 customers without power as of lunchtime on Sunday. With multiple lines knocked down, the crown corporation calls the damage extensive, and adds it will take days to repair. For context, this is the first time Manitoba Hydro has asked for mutual aid from other utilities, and it is an indication of the unprecedented level of damage crews are discovering as they gain access to impacted areas of the province outside the City of Winnipeg.

“Sections of our transmission and distribution system are completely destroyed, and will require a total rebuild before coming back on line. In addition, we are still experiencing issues with impassable roads and possible shortages of the materials needed to repair the damage,” says Jay Grewal, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “In short, this means many customers will not have electricity for days—a situation we know creates a great deal of hardship.”

In addition, several states of local emergency have been declared by municipalities.

Anyone who comes across fallen trees and power lines should avoid contact and call 911. If your power is affected by the storm, click here for tips to help you stay warm and keep food safe.

As the temperature is expected to warm up over the next few days, a gradual melt in snow packed could take place. As of publication, the Red River Floodway is expected to operate until the end of October. Rivers, lakes and streams in south and southwest Manitoba continue to rise and are being monitored by officials from the province and municipalities.

Waterways in the south and southeast section of the province, including the areas of the Roseau River, Vita, Gardenton and Joubert Creek, are seeing the rain-snow mix influence river flows. Levels are continuing to rise in these areas and could bring localized overland flooding of low-lying areas.

The province and municipalities will continue to monitor water levels, and more information can be found by clicking here.

Sand and bags are available at the following locations for Whiteshell residents responding to high water:
• Caddy Lake boat launch,
• Green Bay Road garbage cage, and
• West Hawk and Falcon Lake maintenance yards.

According to the Manitoba government, at the peak of the storm more than 2,700 kilometres of provincial roadways were closed. Most are reopened, but motorists are asked to restrict non-essential travel in areas yet to be cleared to help snow clearing emergency response efforts.

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