Manitoba Hydro workers who volunteered to skip Christmas and go to Toronto are getting a hero's welcome from frigid residents.
On Christmas Eve, 42 staff from hydro flew to Ontario to help restore power to thousands of people. An ice storm last weekend cut off electricity just before the holiday season began.
Manitoba Hydro lineman Warren Helgason said the reception has been amazing.
"We've had from people crying to people dancing to people hugging the guys to bringing out doughnuts. Lots of people are happy, taking pictures with the guys, so it's all good," he said.
But some residents were a bit prickly before discovering where the crew is from, Helgason said.
"We use Toronto Hydro trucks so we've had a few guys screaming at our guys and asking where we were five days ago, he said. "Once they find out we’re from Manitoba they are really appreciative."
Helgason said it took part of Christmas Day to get familiar with Toronto's power system but there have still been a few kinks. The crews got the electricity going again for nearly 500 homes on Christmas night, only to see it cut out again when another circuit in the system blew.
In the York neighbourhood where he's working, ice virtually covers everything, Helgason said.
"It's almost a pretty look because of the trees. I mean there’s vehicles here with an inch and a half of ice on them,” he said.
“The trees are loaded with ice, the fences are loaded, the houses are covered in ice. Imagine everything outside is covered with ice."
'They are fantastic people and we thank them for everything that they do. I know that they are missing time with their family, and they are giving us such chance to be with our family to cook meals." - Matt Dunko,grateful Toronto resident
Rowan Andrelunas, who missed Christmas with his wife and three children in Lac du Bonnet, said the Hydro workers understand why they had to go.
"It's Christmas time and they're in the cold and the dark with no power and no heat," Andrelunas told CBC News. "So, I basically want to come and try and make a better Christmas for them if I can help a little."
Matt Dunko, who has been relying on a generator for five days now, thanked the Manitobans who came to help.
"It's a Godsend," he said. "They are fantastic people and we thank them for everything that they do.
I know that they are missing time with their family, and they are giving us such chance to be with our family to cook meals."
And while it's not the holiday many were expecting, Andrelunas said the volunteers are getting something special.
"It's a really nice feeling when you look into someone's house as you walk away and you see all the lights are on, especially this time of year," he said. "The Christmas lights come on. and you can see they are happy and cheerful finally."
Even with the help, Toronto Hydro is warning that wind and and fresh snow could knock down trees and power lines causing more outages. Manitoba Hydro Crews are expected to be there for up to two weeks..