Thousands without power

Thousands still without power after snow storm hammers Manitoba

WINNIPEG – Manitoba Hydro says it’s making good progress restoring electricity to customers blacked out by the snow storm that blasted southern areas of the province, but it still has a lot of work to do.

The utility’s website indicated that by early Sunday morning nearly 39,000 customers, including some 5,000 in Winnipeg, remained without power, and that it couldn’t say exactly when the lights and heat would be turned back on.

Portage la Prairie, about 90 kilometres west of Winnipeg, has been especially hard hit — tweeting that the city’s sewage lift stations were operating on backup power and that residents should not flush their toilets — at all.

Manitoba Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said in a news release that as the storm system tracked through Portage la Prairie, the Interlake region and farther north, the heavy snow was making it very difficult for crews to assess how much damage had been done, let alone begin to fix it.

Powell said there were reports of snowdrifts close to two-and-a-half metres high and in some cases crews were dealing with broken transmission towers, which he stressed were not quick fixes.

The province has asked people to restrict non-essential travel in order to facilitate snow-clearing for emergency response, to call 911 about downed power lines, and to ensure proper ventilation when using alternative combustible heat sources.

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