Day 4 without power, this rural Manitoba couple waits patiently

There was a sign of relief on Tuesday for many residents in southern Manitoba who woke up to no longer being in the dark, but thousands of other people still have no power.

People in southern Manitoba slowly are regaining power but not everyone is out of the woods

Susan Bueckert stays warm with blankets Tuesday. She hasn't had power since Saturday. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Curled under a pile of blankets, Susan Bueckert waits for the power to come back on with a smile and her husband David is outside pouring gasoline into a generator. 

The rural couple live near Austin, Man. and haven't had any hydro since Saturday. 

"We're just taking it as it comes now. We're not nearly as bad off as some are," David said.

The two listen to a battery-powered radio for news updates. On Tuesday, the news was that power had been restored to many people living in nearby MacGregor, Man.

David Bueckert refuels a generator outside his home Tuesday he's using to get some power. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Naomi Zacharias said she couldn't believe her eyes when she walked through the door and saw their ceiling fan starting to spin. She had been without power for nearly six days.

"I did a little jig, I'm not gonna lie," said Zacharias. "I was super excited."

Zacharias said her family had to come up with creative ways to stay warm and keep a positive attitude as they waited for Manitoba Hydro crews to return power to their home. They used a generator for heat, and her three-year-old was excited to carry a lantern to go to the bathroom.

"Our kids were remarkably adaptable," she said. "Honestly, a lot of people had it a lot worse."
Naomi Zacharias had no power for almost six days. The MacGregor resident used a generator for heat before the power came back on Tuesday morning. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

The Zacharias family was just one of many in their rural municipality of North Norfolk, which is about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg, to go without power for days after an intense snow storm hammered southern Manitoba last week.

Potato farmers hit hard

North Norfolk Mayor Gerald Barber said the municipality's public works staff have been working hard over the weekend to deal with the storm's aftermath. He said they're urging people to use water sparingly in the coming days because of the ground water that's been going into the municipality's sewer system.

"It's OK to go ahead and do your dishes, do some laundry, but it's really putting a burden on our pumps," said Barber. "And our pumps, if they fail, we're going to have sewer backup."

North Norfolk Mayor Gerald Barber had no power for three days. It came back on Tuesday morning. He’s concerned about the local sewer system and is asking residents to use water sparingly. The system is overwhelmed with excess ground water. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Barber said he also lost power for a few days. Now that it's back on, he couldn't be happier.

"It was a good feeling," he said. "Things are going to get back to normal."

Still, he's keeping a generator and a pile of firewood nearby, just in case.

"You do what you gotta do to get through these things," he said.

Barber said there are some things in North Norfolk that have returned to normal, such as the local gas station that has been able to open again.

But he's worried about the local potato farmers who haven't been able to harvest their crops yet.

"That's gonna be a big hit to the economy if they're not gonna be able to get their crops," he said. "And it doesn't look promising."

Barber said while power has returned to many houses in town, there are some in rural areas still waiting.

'Taking it as it comes'

Bueckert has moved curtains in his home strategically to make the room smaller and easier to insulate.

David Bueckert is taking the power outage in stride and isn't complaining. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

He and his wife still can't cook much at home, but have been able to visit their kids nearby for a shower and a hot meal. And they moved their mattress downstairs so they can sleep where it's warmer.

"We don't need a lot more than that," he said.

As they wait for their power to return, Bueckert said they're eating a lot of cold cuts and feeling thankful their situation isn't worse.

"I'm not going to complain if it comes on at the end of the week or whatever, because those boys have to work in poor conditions… When they get to us, they'll get to us."

There was a sign of relief on Tuesday for many residents in southern Manitoba who woke up to no longer being in the dark, but thousands of other people still have no power. CBC's Austin Grabish reports. 1:43

With files from Austin Grabish


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