The power is back on, but storm's aftereffects may mean more outages: Manitoba Hydro

The power is back on for every Manitoba Hydro customer who have gone without electricity since a snowstorm two weeks ago that pulverized the electricity network connecting southern Manitoba, the power utility announced on Friday morning.

Manitoba Hydro crews turning their attention to cleaning up damaged infrastructure

At peak, more than 1,000 Manitoba Hydro workers were in the field in the Interlake, doing repairs following the snowstorm that began on Oct. 10. (Submitted by Manitoba Hydro)

The power is finally back on for every Manitoba Hydro customer who was left without it following the snowstorm that hit the province two weeks ago, the Crown utility announced Friday morning.

"We've made tremendous progress in a short period of time," Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said.

The storm, which began Oct. 10 and stretched into the start of the Thanksgiving weekend, pulverized the electricity network connecting southern Manitoba.

"We've still got a little bit of work to do to the isolated communities. We do have large portable generators on flatbed trailers supplying power, such as to Dauphin River, Lake St. Martin," Owen said Friday.

"We're still in the process of fixing power lines to these communities, so the … generators will no longer be needed."

Though power has been restored, some customers may still lose power due to residual effects of the storm, such as weakened trees falling onto electricity infrastructure. That happened on Thursday night in Winnipeg's River Heights neighbourhood, for example, Owen said.

"The region where the storm was over us, that's where we can expect to see more tree-related outages," he said.

Speedy recovery: Pallister

The utility has responded to 266,000 outage reports since the heavy, wet snow began pummelling trees and power lines on Oct. 10. 

The storm crumpled more than 100 transmission structures and 4,000 wooden utility poles in the Dauphin, Interlake and Portage la Prairie areas, taking down almost 950 kilometres of power lines along the way, Manitoba Hydro said.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister applauded Hydro employees for their tireless work to restore power. 

Manitoba Hydro crews worked in difficult conditions to repair distribution lines, hydro poles, and transmission lines across the province. (Manitoba Hydro/Twitter)

"We thank those employees for their continued dedication and express gratitude to our neighbours, to private contractors and to the thousands of Manitobans who have helped speed up our province's recovery," Pallister said in a news release.

An immense recovery effort has been underway since the snowstorm, which at points left tens of thousands of people without power and forced thousands of people from their homes. Residents from Dauphin River and Little Saskatchewan First Nations are still displaced.

Though power has been restored to virtually everyone, Manitoba Hydro's work isn't complete.

Damaged transmission towers still have to be fixed, and have been temporarily replaced by diesel generators.

Owen said workers are now turning their attention to cleaning up the damaged infrastructure and equipment that was left behind while staff prioritized restoring power. He expects that work to be complete by mid-November.

Crews returning home

He added that the power crews who arrived from Saskatchewan, Ontario and Minnesota to help Manitoba Hydro have left, along with many of Manitoba Hydro's workers who are returning home to their regular duties.

At the peak of the recovery effort, around 1,000 workers were in the Interlake — one of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

"It took, at the height of the work being done in the field, particularly in the Interlake, almost the same as the work that occurs in building the Keeyask generating station. There is that many people, that much machinery, that many materials going out the door," Owen said.

Manitoba Hydro has started conducting a review of how it responded to the storm, Owen said.

The cost of the damage is estimated at more than $110 million


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