Manitoba Hydro sets up camp near Portage la Prairie as cleanup efforts continue

It was a Thanksgiving weekend to remember.

More than 14,000 customers, mostly in rural Manitoba, remain in the dark Tuesday after a wicked Colorado Low whirled through southern Manitoba, damaging tens of thousands of trees, twisting transmission towers like tinfoil and snapping hydro poles, as many as 3,000 in the Interlake and Portage la Prairie area.

READ MORE: Manitoba residents buckle down, check on neighbours as lack of power from snow storm grinds on

Despite the extent of the damage, Manitoba Hydro crews, bolstered by help from SaskPower, Ontario’s Hydro One and crews from Minnesota, have slowly whittled away at the numbers of customers without power.

The Manitoba Hydro outages map as of Tuesday morning – a little less red than the previous few days.
The Manitoba Hydro outages map as of Tuesday morning – a little less red than the previous few days. Manitoba Hydro/Google Maps

While thousands of customers in and around Portage la Prairie remain without power, most of the city had been restored by Monday night.

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Manitoba Hydro is setting up a camp for 200 workers at Southport, just south of Portage la Prairie, as restorations continue, which is expected to take at least another week.

Hydro poles from Regina are hauled into Portage la Prairie on an Alberta flatbed truck.
Hydro poles from Regina are hauled into Portage la Prairie on an Alberta flatbed truck. Richard Cloutier/Global News

RM of Portage la Prairie Reeve Cam Blight said he was devastated to hear his home and business owners could be without electricity that long.

“I’ll be honest, that really hit hard,” he told 680CJOB. “I’ll be heading back into our office in the city of Portage and looking at setting up an emergency command center and trying to figure out where we go from here.”

Blight said locals are pulling together as best they can.

“I know a lot of farmers have generators, and those that haven’t had generators have bought generators in the last several days,” he said.

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“I don’t think you can get a generator anywhere nearby Portage or Winnipeg for that matter.”

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Inside the City of Winnipeg, more than 250 customers remained without power as of 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Snow storm downs wreaks havoc in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Snow storm downs wreaks havoc in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Area farmer Jason Finnie lives about 10 km north of Portage la Prairie and has been without power since Thursday.

“We have no hot water … but it’s not too bad due to the generators,” he said Tuesday morning. “Got a couple of little space heaters running, freezer’s running, fridge is plugged in.”

Finnie said he wasn’t too concerned on Friday, but by Saturday morning, he knew it would take time before he was hooked back up to the electrical grid.

Not only is Finnie waiting for power to be restored, he’s waiting for his fields to dry out enough to harvest.

The canola he did harvest a few days ago is wet, he added, and he has no electrical means to dry his crop.

“I guess we’ll turn it today and flip it over to other bins, just to see what it’s like and go from there.”

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