Manitoba under state of emergency, full power restoration could take days
Published Sunday, October 13, 2019 1:31PM CST
WINNIPEG -- As the province of Manitoba remains under a state of emergency following an October snow storm, Manitoba Hydro said it could still take days to restore power to all customers.
Hydro said the storm damaged major transmission towers and broke hundreds of Hydro poles in multiple areas including: Portage la Prairie, Alonsa, Lake Manitoba Narrows, Ashern, and many other areas.
It said the damage is extensive and will take days to repair.
According to Manitoba Hydro, as of noon on Sunday, there were still about 34,000 customers without power in the province – including almost the entire city of Portage La Prairie, and several remote indigenous communities.
The utility asked the province on Saturday to declare a state of emergency, which Premier Brian Pallister approved.
“The effects of the storm are far worse than what we initially anticipated in those areas,” said Jay Grewal, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro, in a statement.
“Once we began to get access to these areas and previously impassable roads with the help of staff from Manitoba Infrastructure, we began discovering levels of damage never seen before, spread across a large geographic area,“ Grewal said.
He said sections of Manitoba Hydro’s transmission and distribution system are completely destroyed, and will need to be completely rebuilt.
“In short, this means many customers will not have electricity for days—a situation we know creates a great deal of hardship,” said Grewal.
Declaring a state of emergency allows the utility to access additional materials, snowplows, and other resources from the province and municipalities, Grewal said.
“In addition, declaring the State of Emergency allows us to invoke our ‘mutual aid’ agreements with neighbouring Canadian and U.S. utilities for support and additional materials,” he said.
This is the first time Manitoba Hydro has asked for help from other utilities. Grewal said it’s an indication of the unprecedented level of damage crews are facing – specifically in rural Manitoba.