Winnipeg's homeless hit hard by winter weather
Published Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:20AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:36PM EST
As snow storms hit parts of Canada, Winnipeg is bearing the brunt of the cold weather -- especially the city’s least fortunate residents.
With temperatures hovering around -22 degrees Celsius on Thursday and the mercury expected to fall even farther in the days ahead, Winnipeg’s homeless shelters are struggling to keep people warm.
Aid workers at the Siloam Mission say coats, blankets and mitts are flying off the shelves as they try to outfit the city’s homeless with warm clothing.
“If you figure 65 people might come through today, if they all need a coat, they’re gone,” said the Mission’s Judy Sorting.
Siloam Mission spokesperson Judy Richichi says clothing donations are a big help, particularly when they can be worn in layers.
“We’re always looking for layering effects,” she told CTV Winnipeg on Thursday. “So obviously long johns, tuques, mitts, undershirts, socks, and then blue jeans because they’re durable.”
She adds that coats and blankets are always welcome and helpful.
Winnipeg shelters are also focusing on getting people inside at night so there are no deaths from the cold.
“We have a lot of space here so we just want to make sure nobody’s left outside,” said Mark Stewart of the Salvation Army Winnipeg Booth Centre.
A 55-year-old homeless man was found dead from the cold in a back lane in Winnipeg last December.
Stewart says he wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again. “We don’t want fatalities this year,” he said.
Storms on both coasts
Winter has arrived in earnest on both ends of the country, with two separate storm systems bringing heavy snow and high winds.
A nor'easter has dumped heavy, wet snow on New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, prompting school closures and power outages.
In the Prairies and eastern British Columbia, meanwhile, a winter snowfall warning is in effect from Saskatoon through the Rockies.
Parts of New Brunswick were buried under 30 centimetres of snow overnight, prompting power outages and school closures that delivered hundreds of kids an unexpected snow day.
Several flights from Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton to Halifax Stanfield International Airport were cancelled in the early morning, but CTV's David Bell says arrivals and departures from those airports have now returned to normal.
But for many residents and businesses, the power supply is far from normal. As many as 40,000 customers in the province are without electricity, with the majority of those outages in the Fredericton region. NB Power says crews are working to restore service across the province.
Temperatures in Moncton are expected to hover around 0 degrees Celsius for most of the day, making the snow soggy and heavy, says Moncton's general foreman Jeff Scott.
"There's an awful lot of moisture in the snow. It's wet and it's heavy and people are going to find it difficult to shovel," Scott told CTV's Canada AM early Thursday morning.
In P.E.I., people living in Prince County are being told by Environment Canada to brace for 10 more centimetres of snow along with ice pellets today. The province's hydro provider, Maritime Electric, says customers are experiencing “scattered outages,” and crews are working to restore electricity.
Areas of Newfoundland are also getting hammered with heavy snow, with forecasters calling for 15 to 25 centimetres before the day is done. Over in Nova Scotia, the weather story is one of rain.
Pacific frontal system in the West
In Saskatchewan, Alberta, and eastern B.C., a major Pacific frontal system has prompted several snowfall warnings from Environment Canada, which issues the warnings when 10 cm of snow or more is expected to fall in 12 hours or less.
Saskatoon has been told to expect up to 25 cm of snow, while Edmonton is expecting up to 30 cm. Some areas of the Rocky Mountains have been told they could see up to 75 cm of snow.
"Brisk northeasterly winds will likely generate drifting or blowing snow in open areas and along major highways," Environment Canada said in its warning.
"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow."
By Friday, frigid Arctic air will move in behind the snowfall, dropping daytime highs well below normal for the weekend.